247880 Implementing a rights-based approach to community participation through public health law reform: A study of the Western Cape's Draft Policy Framework for Community Participation

Monday, October 31, 2011: 10:30 AM

Benjamin Mason Meier, JD, LLM, PhD , Assistant Professor of Global Health Policy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Leslie London, Professor , Health and Human Rights Programme, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Community participation is crucial to realizing public health goals, yet many health systems have not established the legislative frameworks necessary to promote effective participation. This study assesses the political, historical, and legal context of the health care policymaking process in South Africa's Western Province, investigating how stakeholders considered a Draft Policy Framework for Community Participation/Governance Structures in provincial legislative reforms. This research examines the development of South Africa's human rights-based commitment to participation through the evolution of post-Apartheid legislation to secure community participation in health care policy decisions. South African policymakers have worked in the past decade to codify executive and legislative measures to incorporate community participation in health systems, recognizing community participation as instrumental to realizing a constitutional commitment to the right to health. Although these policies have resulted in a system of Health Committees under the District Health System, many Health Committees have struggled to promote community participation without formal recognition under law. Through legal analysis of national and provincial legislation and a series of in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, this research explores the key facilitating and inhibiting factors for public health law reform to enable community participation. By analyzing the legal frameworks established in South Africa to advance community participation in health, this research concludes that attempts to promote participation have not adequately addressed the underlying factors crucial to achieving effective participation. Assuring the future success of participation, this study recommends that policymakers address issues of representation, roles, responsibilities, and capacity building for Health Committees under law.

Learning Areas:
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of this session, the participant will be able to: 1. Assess the Western Cape’s Draft Policy Framework for Community Participation as a means to enable rights-based participation in health care policy; and 2. Evaluate the key facilitating and inhibiting factors for public health law reform to enable community participation.

Keywords: Law, Human Rights

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I supervised this research and oversaw the analysis.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

See more of: Human rights for global justice
See more of: Health Law