Public health work sees new partnership structures PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 10 October 2006 18:10

Solid networks and strong partnerships play an increasingly important role in planning and implementing public health work and regional development.

There is a turn from government to governance in both the public health field and the regional planning field, increasing the importance of networks and partnerships. So far, we have learned that regional policies and planning processes, in addition to public health policies and public health work, and a combination of governance and government, are necessary. – This includes a combination of bottom-up and top-down policies, as well as communicative and instrumental planning, said professor Roar Amdam from the Volda University College.

The concept of governance pays attention to the distribution of power. In governance the policies and activities are not carried out by formal government structures such as ministries, counties and municipalities. The policies and activities are instead based on neworking and collaboration between private, public and voluntary sectors on different regional levels.

This new partnership structure can be described as an interactive process in which new political institutions are formed. Accordingly, no person has the capacity to tackle all the problems we face. Successful networking has become a cornerstone in organising activities in public health work and regional planning. In order to achieve a successful network, the network must be identified and assessed. In addition, its effect on available resouces must be understood. The network must have legitimacy, from within, but also from the outside. From within the network, its legitimacy depends on how much power the participating organisations are willing to transfer to the networks. Outside the network, its legitimacy depends on the actual planning process, the productivity and the efficiency of the network.

Networking is an ongoing process. Its structures are instable and change frequently as each partner looks for appropriate partners to collaborate with. Nevertheless, it also tells us that non-public health sectors and organisations do not have the capacity, power or monopoly to work or act alone. Cooperation is necessary.

A number of today´s health problems come as consequences, both intentional and non-intentional, of different public and private sector activities. Thus, mobilising territorial and cross-sectorial forces in order to influence the higher sectors and policies in modern society is believed to be efficient, said professor Amdam.

According to the professor, the turn towards governance in public health and regional planning is not without concern. A key challenge is the reform wave which the public sector is currently facing, also called new public management. This wave, which is adapted from private sectors, tends to make public sector organisations more instrumental, self-oriented and outwards. At the same time, public sectors focus on collaborating and conduct communicative planning processes. Therefore, public health work must use territorial based planning in order to be accepted in policymaking processes.

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