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Subregional Dialogue: Community participation in social services

Date: 04 Nov 2010 to 05 Nov 2010

Time: 8:30 AM

Location: Washington, D.C., United States

The Hemispheric Meeting of the Regional Policy Dialogue in Social Protection and Health 2010 aims at initiating a systematic learning process about the advantages and disadvantages of providing social services through members of the community, and the conditions that enhance or inhibit the impact of such interventions.

Some background…

Several countries in the Region have chosen to fund the direct provision of services by members of the community, specifically trained for it, as a way to expand coverage of social services. In many cases, this strategy is used to reach sparsely populated areas, where the provision of services by conventional means is prohibitively expensive. Alternatively this strategy may be used to significantly expand or supplement access to social services that require substantial investment in a conventional manner.

Beyond being a response to the fiscal and operational constraints faced by countries, such interventions produce services using information and social capital not necessarily available through conventional interventions—e.g. more local-specific knowledge of the problems to be addressed, higher trust by the population to be served. In that sense, these interventions might provide us with important operational elements for the provision of services, either directly or in addition to conventional supply. However, it is also important to understand whether the use of less conventional or less specialized personnel for the provision of services can generate a trade-off between coverage and quality of services, for at least three reasons. First, these strategies may not only be used in marginal cases, but may be displacing conventional strategies that could be considered more effective. Second, to the extent that these interventions are targeted only tolow-income or vulnerable populations, they could represent an inequitable distribution of quality of social services. Finally, these interventions tend to be expanded in the Region, without necessarily understanding of their costs and benefits.

Specific objectives:

The Meeting has the following purposes: (i) based on empirical evidence, discuss to what extent these non-conventional methods of coverage involve provision of quality services, (ii) to analyze what could be the elements of design and implementation to reduce the potential trade-off between coverage and quality, and (iii) generate a research agenda on the above points.

Interesting links:

To what degree should we rely on volunteers to get the work done in ending maternal and child deaths?


Note: All presentations, publications and results of the meeting shall be publicly accessible through this website.

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