ICMM members have made significant strides in addressing community health issues. However, changing disease patterns and emerging community health needs will continue to present new issues and challenges. ICMM member community health initiatives will need to continue to learn from experience, to refine and evolve health programming to maximize and sustain health impacts.
- This report analyses community health initiatives undertaken by ICMM member companies and highlights key lessons learned. These lessons are intended to provide a platform for collective engagement between members and other stakeholders on health-related issues.
- Community health initiatives can be categorised as:
- Global and regional health initiatives.
- Communicable disease control initiatives.
- Primary health care programmes implemented by third parties in settings where government health systems are relatively weak.
- Support for health programs implemented by local government where district health authorities have sufficient capacity to directly manage the project.
- Specialised health interventions often targeting marginalised communities, usually in remote areas of developed countries.
- Several cross-cutting lessons are identified, including the importance of:
- Engaging with communities so actual and perceived health needs are understood prior to initiative design.
- Clearly defining company priorities in community health, ideally through corporate policies and standards, and then effectively managing stakeholder expectations.
- Selecting partners with proven technical and implementation capacity to run health projects.
- Ensuring respective roles and responsibilities of all partners are clearly articulated through memoranda of understanding, and that co-ordination mechanisms are defined with existing stakeholders, active in community health in the area.
- Recognising the role of the government health system in providing oversight, policy and strategy guidance, and stewardship; where district health authority capacity is constrained, attempting to address this as part of the community health initiative.
- Establishing sound monitoring and evaluation systems, including impact and process indicators that can be used to determine the success of the initiative, as well as to stimulate necessary refinements during project implementation.
- Community health initiatives require exit strategies to be built in from the onset to increase the likelihood of sustainability. Issues to consider include:
- Minimising dependency creation during the course of the project by working in line with government policies and systems.
- Planning how to taper interventions during the project while at the same time maintaining health gains.
- Building local government management capacity to take over the running of company-supported health centres and initiatives.