Chapter overview on legislative frameworks for social participation: how do laws contribute to social participation?

What do we mean by this topic?

Different types of laws have impact on social participation in health:

1.  Legal frameworks directly linked to participation

 Social participation laws

2.  Legal frameworks indirectly linked to participation


 Freedom of information

3.  Legal frameworks on health implying social participation

Health Acts

Right to health legislation


Why is it important for policy makers to address this topic?

•   The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR) states: “….The right to participate in political and public affairs should be enforceable by law and its denial should be open to judicial challenge...”

•   UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 2000: participation features as a central component to achieve the right to health. …participation in health systems should entail ‘decision-making’ and should occur at local (community), national and international levels. Furthermore, this should entail involvement in decision-making with regards to priority-setting, planning and implementation of health services. Participation also involves being part of political decisions related to health at community and national levels including involvement in the formulation of a national public health strategy and plan of action.

Selected key messages

Different types of legal frameworks are generally positive for social participation but:

•   Legal frameworks do not guarantee social participation

•   A legal framework is not necessary for social participation to happen

•   When civic momentum is present, a legal framework can reinforce participation and/or participatory structures

Prerequisites when implementing a law facilitating social participation in health:

•   Readiness of stakeholders to participate in terms of capacity and resources at all levels of the health system

•   Political will to give participation a real chance


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