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Revista de Salud Pública

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AREVALO, Decsi Astrid. Community participation and social control in the health system. Rev. salud pública [online]. 2004, vol.6, n.2, pp.107-107. ISSN 0124-0064.

In Colombia, the 1991 Constitution established the obligation of promoting social participation. However, the discussion regarding the significance and scope of social participation is far from being over with the promulgation of the Constitution since social participation has a high political component, i.e., social participation requires the transfer of a part of power to sectors previously excluded from decision taking. As long as the State has conceived the market strategy as the best way to allocate resources and the receptors of social policy are considered as consumers, the challenge is to establish a balance between supply and demand in order to guarantee efficiency and efficacy in the application of resources and transparency in the public administration. Thus, the community of users has the mission of monitoring the correct allocation of State resources. Upon evaluating some of the results of the application of this strategy of social participation in health, three features can be highlighted: there are important advances in the promotion of social participation but not in social control; social control is dispersed and atomized, and participation as institutional policy is weak. Regarding the first aspect, it can be concluded that there has been a favorable response of the municipalities to the obligation of promoting the organizational forms of the community as far as health is concerned. When the actions carried out for social control are taken into account, the outlook varies. The convoking capacity of the institutions of the system to community organizations is considerably low, as well as the discussion of the reports presented by such organizations. On the other hand, the lack of communication between the different instances involved in both promotion of participation and social control became evident, situation which reflects the presence of relationships of bilateral nature, i.e., only the most direct interlocutor is known.

Keywords : Community participation; social control; healthcare system; Colombia.

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