Edited by Asha S. George, Kerry Scott, Eric Sarriot et al.
BMC Health Services Research 2016 16(Suppl 7) – Published on 15 November 2016
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The right and responsibility of communities to participate in health service delivery was enshrined in the 1978 Alma Ata declaration and continues to feature centrally in health systems debates today. Communities are a vital part of people-centred health systems and their engagement is critical to realizing the diverse health targets prioritised by the Sustainable Development Goals and the commitments made to Universal Health Coverage. Unlocking community capabilities enables communities to make use of their unique social systems and resources in ways that may not always align with outsider expectations. Policymakers and program implementers must consider what “community participation” means in terms of control over agendas, resources, processes and outcomes as well as in terms of who counts as the community.