“It is my first time seeing a visit from high-level officials to discuss the health issues of our community.” This remark from a Guinean woman reflects the dramatic change in approach that led to a substantial increase in the country’s national health budget for 2019. Parliamentarians and national staff of the Ministry of Health (MOH) traveled to facilities in all eight regions of the country in 2018 and discussed with community members, local officials, health providers, and the media challenges facing the public health system and possible improvements.
SCS Global’s Citizen Involvement in Health project facilitated the visits—as well as budget training for legislators, follow-on working groups, and press events to advance priority actions.
Legislators worked with the MOH to increase funding for prefectural and regional hospitals and much-needed heath facility repairs. The 2019 budget accelerates the devolution of the health sector; it also empowers local communities in the governance of health facilities via a specific line item allowing community health centers to apply for additional funding.
The budget for 2019 represents an increase of 25% over that of previous years and raises its proportion of the overall national budget from 7.2% to 8.2%. At the same time, the budget has eliminated unexplained line items from prior year budgets—increasing budget transparency.
Perhaps most important, these activities fostered productive working relationships among key stakeholders, particularly the National Assembly and the MOH, and demonstrated the strategic value of citizen and media engagement.