Guest Talk by Dr. Shirin Madon on ‘Improving Accountability of Primary Healthcare: Does ICT have a role?’

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Dr. Shirin Madon, Associate Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, delivered a guest talk at IIIT Bangalore on 6th September. The title of the talk was: Improving Accountability of Primary Healthcare: Does ICT have a role?

Abstract

Non-accountability in primary healthcare has been a major issue for decades particularly in resource-poor settings. The first part of the talk was a review of different initiatives undertaken to reform the sector and the underlying assumptions made about how health relates to development. What took place during the Alma Ata Conference of 1978 was of great importance in steering health policy in developing countries away from vertical health planning towards a decentralised model in which communities and health workers were held jointly accountable for health improvements. However, already by the late 1980s neoliberal policy prescriptions began to prioritise efficiency of health service delivery. The second part of the talk focused on accountability-enhancing reform initiatives that placed emphasis on performance metrics and computerised hierarchical reporting systems. Despite some improvements in global health indicators, inequalities remain in terms of access to basic healthcare in low-income settings. Primary health centres continue to lack accountability to low-income communities as a result of the inadequate provision of basic services, sanitation, nutrition and hygiene, contributing to poor health outcomes. The final part of the talk edon emergent local accountability structures increasingly found in many parts of the developing world in the form of village health committees. Drawing on ongoing longitudinal research in the Gumballi Primary Health Center, Karnataka, the speaker described the emergence and evolution of the Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Committees, pointing to some implications of her experience to date and reflecting on further research on this topic.

About the speaker

Shirin Madon is Associate Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science where she holds a joint appointment in the Departments of Management and International Development. Her areas of interest are Information Technologies for Development, E-governance, and Health Information Systems for Primary Healthcare. Currently, she teaches two masters courses titled ‘ICT and Socioeconomic Development’ and ‘Handling Disruption: Humanitarian Emergencies Management and Development’. Dr Madon has published extensively, including a much acclaimed book E-Governance for Development: A Focus on Rural India (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). She serves as an Associate Editor for the journals Information Technology and People, and Information Technology for Development. She earned her PhD from Imperial College, London.