Can Social Accountability Help Ensure Rights and Better Participation in Maternal Health Services?

Over the last two decades, social accountability has emerged as a strategy to make health services more responsive to community needs. "It's an approach that creates a space for interaction between citizen engagement and government responsiveness,” said Jonathan Fox, professor of international development at American University at the Wilson Center May 5.

Despite a nearly 50 percent reduction in global maternal mortality since 1990, gains in maternal health outcomes have been uneven. In developing and developed countries alike, the information, services, and resources that ensure safe pregnancy, delivery, and recovery are too often inaccessible for marginalized women.

Social accountability can be used to reach marginalized women and address uneven maternal health outcomes. The idea is to create a safe space for dialogue between health providers and community members to identify problems and promote solutions when the government or private sector’s capacity to respond is limited. When they work, social accountability programs help ensure the rights of all constituents, not just the easiest to reach or the most cost effective.

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