Introduction to Community Health Research: The SOCHARA Experience

Research is recognized as an important tool to combat the inequality that exists in health. Incorporating research into social movement and community health work and transforming this finding to bring social change is very critical in this process. To strengthen this process SOCHARA builds a multi-disciplinary team of researchers to achieve the universal goal of “Health for All”.

In order to facilitate collective action for this goal the researchers and activists from various clusters are brought together to discuss and learn from each other. Expertise in designing, guiding, evaluating and critiquing studies was lent to various groups and communities. Government agencies too have sought SOCHARA’s consultation for various state level task force reports.

In this section we highlight the following:
1.    Enablers and Barriers to Civil Society Engagement in Health and Health Research from SOCHARA experience
2.    Report of a recent annual team retreat on key learnings from research projects in SOCHARA
3.    Some of the Major Studies of SOCHARA
4.    Some of the papers and reflections on research issues in community health which were prepared for specific processes and initiatives

ENABLERS AND BARRIERS TO CIVIL SOCIETY ENGAGEMENT IN HEALTH RESEARCH

Visionary, progressive, leadership in the civil service and the political establishment and in organizations provided valuable policy space for health research and its follow-up.

If researchers see themselves only in their professional capacities as knowledge producers, then the studies get limited to publications and bookshelves and do not influence policy and political processes. Skills within the research teams or organizations for participatory, inter-disciplinary work, communication and engagement are required. An evolving system of engaged researcher’s interacting and working with policy makers, practitioners, communities and civil society, transforms the knowledge production and utilization process.

  • Information and communication technology when coupled with word of mouth communication at community level has been very much more productive
  • Status quo factors, a strong biomedical approach and unnecessary bureaucratic procedures are often barriers to the process of enquiry and action
  • Funding institutions and mechanisms can play a significant role in broadening the focus of health research to research for health, development and equity
  • Development of institutional capacity and human resources in research for health need to be prioritized as part of work on health and equity by all sectors including civil society. The development of civil society through public-public partnerships in the field research would help to strengthen the public health system which is essential to realize health rights
  • The provision of funds, mechanisms for professional support and legitimacy as well as institutional mechanisms to strengthen capacity and ability for sustained work by civil society-based researchers will bring in fresh perspectives from community based work
  • While qualitative research, inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary research, participatory action research and ethical issues in research are gaining ground, they are still relatively marginal. This needs to be reversed and balanced by pro-active policy measures. Civil society organizations can help to play a role in this

REPORT OF A RECENT ANNUAL TEAM RETREAT ON KEY LEARNINGS FROM RESEARCH PROJECTS IN SOCHARA

Research is recognized as an important tool to combat the inequality that exists in health. Incorporating research into social movement and community health work and transforming this finding to bring social change is very critical in this process. To further this process SOCHARA builds a multi-disciplinary team of researchers to achieve the universal goal of “Health for All”. In order to facilitate collective action for this goal the researchers and activist from various clusters are brought together to discuss and learn from each other.

Retreating from the day today work the whole team members of SOCHARA came together to reflect upon what SOCHARA has been doing in the past many years and think of a future direction for individuals in their journey in Community Health and the SOCHARA team as well. This year the theme selected for the annual retreat was on “RESEARCH”. Hence, two days was specifically devoted to the reflection of SOCHARA’S encounter with research as research in one of core components of SOCHARA. The two days programme specifically aims at identifying the research interest of each individual, learn from SOCHARA’s research encounter, and understand the research projects that is currently going on. Read further >>

SOME OF THE MAJOR STUDIES OF SOCHARA

SOME OF THE PAPERS AND REFLECTIONS ON RESEARCH ISSUES IN COMMUNITY HEALTH