COPASAH SOUTH ASIA EXCHANGE AND STRENGTHENING MEET ON SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY IN HEALTH IN THE SOUTH ASIA REGION DECEMBER 4-6, 2016; KATHMANDU, NEPAL

INTRODUCTION

COPASAH – Community of Practitioners on Accountability and Social Action in Health – is a global community of practitioners who share a people –centric vision and human rights based approach to health, health care and human dignity ( http://www.copasah.net). COPASAH’S mission is to nurture, strengthen and promote collective knowledge, skills and capacity of communityoriented organisations and health activists primarily in the regional nodes of South Asia, Latin America, East Southern Africa and Central Europe working in the field of accountability and social action in health, for promoting active citizenship to make health systems responsive, equitable and people-centred.

CONTEXT FOR THE MEET AND STRENGTHENING SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY IN
SOUTH ASIA

In the COPASAH South Asia regional node of practice, synergy has been enhanced through
different interactions in form of workshops, Facilitated learning exchange visits and through virtual communication on the communication platforms and the COPASAH Communiqué (newsletter).At country level this has deepened but there are very few opportunities for collective deliberations on the social accountability in the region in form of face to face meetings. With a view to understanding various approaches and experiences from a range of health rights organizations and health rights activists in different countries of South Asia (India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh), COPASAH South Asia envisaged a platform for discussion to contribute to strengthening the field of accountability in health in South Asia and to deepen and expand the regional base further of COPASAH through medium of a COPASAH South Asia strengthening meeting. The objectives of the meet were:

OBJECTIVES:

  • To understand the eco-system of social accountability in health in the South Asian
    Countries
  • To facilitate mutual sharing of experiences and learning from each other
  • To strengthen South Asian solidarity to promote people oriented social accountability
    perspectives and perspectives.
  • Explore opportunities for knowledge production from accountability practice in the
    region and its exchange in form of webinars, case studies and other mediums

SESSIONS OF THE MEET

COPASAH South Asia Exchange and Strengthening Meet, was convened in Kathmandu, Nepal from Dec 4 to 6, 2016 on a very participatory note. The meet saw significant participation from countries of Srilanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. The meet was facilitated by COPASAH Steering Committee (SC) member Renu Khanna, with co facilitation support from COPASAH South Asia SC member Gulbaz Ali Khan.

DECEMBER 5, 2016 SESSIONS

SESSION I: MUTUAL INTRODUCTIONS, CONTEXT OF THE MEET AND COMMON
EXPECTATIONS FROM THE MEET

Representing the COPASAH South Asia practice node Surekha Dhaleta set out the tone for the South Asia meet. Through a participatory methodology COPASAH SC member Renu Khanna steered the mutual introductions, wherein the participants shared the context of their work and affiliated organizations. Representing Srilanka Dr. Harishchandra Yakandawala and Asitha Punchihewa from Family Planning Association (FPA) of Srilanka; Tharindu Gunathilaka and Sanath Mahawtihanage from the Sarvodaya Sharmadana Movement of Srilanka, elucidated that Sarvodaya is the biggest Non-Government Organisation in Srilanka and the organisations including FPA and Sarvodaya have been instrumental along with other stakeholders in proposing Health as a Right and Srilanka may soon recognize health as a Right in its Constitution.

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Representing Pakistan, Kanwal Iqbal from Community Uplift Programme (CUP) and Gulbaz Ali Khan from Centre for Inclusive Governance (CIG) highlighted that CUP has been amongst the forerunners in carrying out social accountability in Pakistan and both the organizations have experimented with use of community score cards in family planning, citizen report cards in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of the country as well have had experience of experimenting with other strategies like that of budget tracking, Right to Information, Right to Public Services and developing manuals, guidelines etc. for health services providers also. Amongst the Nepal representatives, Narayan Adhikari from the Accountability Lab outlined that the organization is working towards accountability, health and migration in Nepal and is geared towards using Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) extensively with youth in Nepal. Post the April, 2015 earthquake in the country, the Accountability lab has set up citizen help desks to bridge gaps with local people on the ground and the organization has bolstered campaigns such as the Integrity Idol since 2014 to debate around the idea of integrity and demonstrate the importance of honesty and personal responsibility. Kedar Khadka from GoGo foundation in Nepal elaborated that GoGo foundation has been instrumental in conducting public hearings from village, district up to central level, and in developing social audit accountability tools which have been adopted by Ministry of Health education and other sectors also. Two participants from Nepal, Rakshya Paudyal from Beyond Beijing Committee (BBC) in Nepal pointed out the 8 BBC and Kapil Kafle, coordinator Men Engage Alliance South Asia joined the meet later in the day. Representing Bangladesh, Rowshan Ara and Maksuda Khatun from Naripokkho outlined that the organization is women’s activist organisation working for the advancement of women’s rights and entitlements and building resistance against violence, discrimination and injustice. They delineated that Naripokkho was found in 1983 and since then has been involved in numerous activities related to Violence Against Women (VAW) in Bangladesh, which include campaigns, cultural events, training, research, lobbying and advocacy. It has also vast experience in monitoring government health care facilities and in increasing accountability of service providers amongst the key components of work on monitoring, they added.

COMMON EXPECTATIONS FROM THE MEET

Advancing from formal introductions by participants around the context of their work and of their organizations, the schedule was elucidated by Renu Khanna, following which the
participants outlined their common expectations from the meet. The potentials from the meet by the invitee participants were outlined, in terms of taking it as an opportunity to understand health related issue in the South Asian countries, besides exploring it as a platform of experience sharing on challenges and success of accountability practices, and learning from each other on accountability tools, as well taking it a prospective instance to know more about COPASAH, forge cross country alliances with different organisations, networks and strengthen the COPASAH network in the South Asia region.

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COPASAH SC member Renu Khanna introducing the schedule of the meet

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