Civil Society Engagement

What is the Programme about?

This programme aims to strengthen the role of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Research and Innovation for Health (

Communities understand their own needs and CSOs, through direct contact with these communities, are often in a good position to address these needs. As they often work across sectors and have independence from governments, markets and other large entities, CSOs have been able to find innovative solutions for their communities, hold governments to account, influence health policies and improve health outcomes. CSOs should be more involved in research and innovation for health so as to help ensure its local relevance, better use and higher impact.

What is happening in the Programme?

COHRED aims to raise the profile of CSOs and their importance in the process of Research and innovation for Health. COHRED will work with CSO to strengthen their research capacities and offer guidance to governments to highlight the advantages of including CSOs in defining the research agenda, in developing research partnerships, in conducting research, in communicating about research and in utilizing the research findings.

Programme Achievements

COHRED is in the process of mapping CSO organisations. This data is available by visiting – an on-line platform that enables CSOs to showcase their work, network with colleagues around the world, demonstrate best practices, share stories, tools and resources and engage with peers in discussion topics of common concern.

COHRED has developed action guides aimed at CSOs, governments, research institutions and other actors to help critically reflect on how best to build on the capacity of CSOs in strengthening research and innovation for health at country-level. These are available at

To illustrate how CSOs can contribute, we can refer to the work of three organisations in different parts of the world:

SEARCH, researched neonatal mortality in rural communities of India and then engaged women community health workers to deliver culturally-sensitive life-saving interventions for newborn babies. Infant mortality was reduced by 62% in a very short time. Based on the research of SEARCH and on similar community-level research, the World Health Organisation (WHO) created a resolution titled: “Train millions of community health workers to diagnose and treat pneumonia in children, ensure antibiotic supply and educate mothers about pneumonia”

PROCOSI, conducted research on knowledge, attitudes and practices of sexual reproductive health on two indigenous populations of Bolivia. It is on the basis of this research that local women’s community organisations were then empowered to train women of a sexual reproductive age on sexual reproductive health. Maternal mortality was reduced by 75%. In 2008, the project received the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) award for ‘Best Practices in Gender, Ethnicity and Health

BRAC, experimented and researched the provision of health treatment for rural villages – that lacked access to government health care – in Bangladesh. Based on this work, BRAC now provides basic health care services to the most marginalised populations. For people diagnosed with mild and severe morbidity BRAC provides financial assistance for their clinical care


Communication Initiative highlights COHRED’s approach to working with CSOs, Communication Initiative, 15 Oct 2012

How can you help?

There are ways through which you can support the work of COHRED within this programme. For more information, click here

For More Information

COHRED Group Contacts
Erika Silva on email:
Also see: