The goal of the community-based initiatives programme is to create development policies and directions that are supportive to health, community empowerment and local governance to ensure health equity and quality of life. The approach places health at the core of the development process and identifies ways to address disparities in the health care system and create equitable solutions for health care delivery. Through the programme community organization and mobilization is strengthened. The initiatives improve people's access to basic needs, such as nutrition, safe water, sanitation, shelter and access to preventive and curative health services.
The programme has been implemented in 17 countries of the Region: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia and Yemen, covering a population of more than 18 000 000. The initiatives empower communities to assess, analyse and prioritize their development needs, based on available resources and generate additional resources to implement and monitor their own planned interventions.
There is clear evidence that community-based initiatives offer added value in bridging inequity and have positive implications for health. The most salient aspects of this approach are the organization, mobilization and enhancement of community capabilities, and involvement in micro-development of social and income-generating schemes emphasizing basic needs.
Many of the inequities in health, both within and between countries, can be understood in terms of social inequities, i.e. inequities in the social conditions in which people live and work. These social determinants, the social conditions of daily life, have a major impact on health status and on general well-being. Tackling such underlying causes of poor health can contribute to improving health and health equity, where health equity is defined as the absence of systematic disparities in health between more or less advantaged social groups.