** Published in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) volume 16.1. All rights reserved.**
Background: In Latin America, community participation in health issues is subject to corrupt and self-serving
interest. Research recommends strengthening communities’ abilities to develop actions that involve them in the
co-production of their health.
Objectives: This study aims (1) to understand social participation in health based on the discourse of community
leaders and institutional representatives and (2) to design and implement an educational strategy for capacity
building within two communities in Colombia.
Methods: The study used a community-based participatory research (CBPR) partnership between researchers,
community leaders, and institutional representatives. To understand social participation in health, 17 interviews
were conducted with leaders and institutional representatives. Based on this assessment, an educational strategy
was designed and implemented with residents of two communities, which resulted in 28 people taking part in 14
pedagogical workshops. The strategy was evaluated through focus groups and the results of the project were
validated by all the interested parties.
Results: Interviewees’ perception of participation is reduced to access to health care services. They identified that
the agencies and institutions promote participation only to comply with the law. The communities stated that they
had few tools to resolve situations that violate their right to health. Therefore, leaders and researchers developed
an educational strategy custom tailored, so the community could acquire the capacities to confront injustices and
bureaucracy in the health system and public services.
Conclusion: This participatory research empowered communities to defend their right to health. The findings are
a reference for social participation in health initiatives in similar contexts.