Social participation is an important means for governments to develop responsive health policies and programmes, which are more likely to be implemented by a broad stakeholder group. It is at the heart of the inclusive governance needed for countries to stake their individual paths towards Universal Health Coverage while ensuring that no one is left behind.
As simple as it may seem in theory, it is a complex undertaking in practice, one which policy-makers struggle with. The Handbook on Social Participation for UHC is thus designed to provide practical guidance, anchored in conceptual clarifications, on strengthening meaningful government engagement with the population, communities, and civil society for national health policy-making. It draws on best practices and lessons learned to support government institutions in setting up, fine-tuning, improving, and institutionalizing new or existing participatory health governance mechanisms.
The handbook follows through the different tasks which policy-makers must reflect on and undertake when bringing in people’s voice into health policy-making. Examples include creating an enabling environment for participation, ensuring good representation, strengthening capacities, increasing policy-uptake of participatory process results, and sustaining participatory engagement over time. A fundamental premise of the handbook rests on the idea that policy-makers can leverage format and design elements of a participatory process to address power dynamics amongst participants, thereby fostering more meaningful contributions to the process.