Local patterns of social capital and sustenance of the Community-Based Health Planning Services (CHPS) policy: a qualitative comparative study in Ghana

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Social capital—the resources embedded in social relationships—has been associated with health severally. Notwithstanding, only a handful of studies have empirically examined how it shapes health policies. This paper extends the discourse by comparatively examining how variations in local patterns of structural and cognitive social capital underpin the successes and challenges in managing and sustaining the Community-Based Health Planning Services (CHPS) policy in Ghana. The CHPS is an intervention to address health inequalities.

Qualitative study involving individual in-depth interviews and focus group discussions using a semistructured interview guide. Thematic analysis approach, inspired by McConnell’s typology of policy success (or failure) was adopted.

Two rural communities in two districts in Ashanti region in Ghana.

Thirty-two primary participants as well as four health personnel and four traditional and political leaders.

Both structural and cognitive components of social capital underpinned efficient functioning of the CHPS initiative regarding funding, patronage and effective information transmission. Sufficient level of social capital in a community enhanced understanding of the nature and purpose of the CHPS policy as well as complementary ones such as the referral policy. Contrary to popular conclusions, it was discovered that the influence of social capital was not necessarily embedded in its quantity but the extent of conscious activation and application. Furthermore, the findings contravened the assertion that social capital may be less potent in small-sized communities. However, elevated levels of cognitive social capital encouraged people to access the CHPS on credit or even for free, which was injurious to its sustenance.

The CHPS initiative, and pro-poor policies alike, are more likely to thrive in localities with sufficient structural and cognitive social capital. Lack of it may render the CHPS susceptible to recurrent, yet preventable challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere023376
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Early online date1 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

The author would like to thank Professor David R. Phillips and Professor Roman David for their insightful comments. He also acknowledges the time and efforts of Madam Patricia Amponsaa (opinion leader, Amoam-Achiase), health personnel in the two CHPS facilities and Mr Osei (unit committee chairman, Apemanim), who helped to shape and validate the initial results. Lastly, the author would like to thank all the participants who granted interviews to the study.


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