Symposium #3 - Learn About the Process to Adopt and Implement Social Accountability Standards


Nicholas Torres, M.Ed, is the Executive Director of The Network: Towards Unity for Health where he provides governance, strategy, and financial oversight. He also serves as CEO and President (Interim) for The Alliance for Health Equity Foundation, is Co-Founder and manager of Social Innovations Partners which publishes the Social Innovations Journal. He teaches Nonprofit Leadership, Social Policy, and Social Entrepreneurship at University of Pennsylvania.

Mohamed Elhassan Abdalla Elsayed, PhD is Senior Lecturer in Medical Education, School of Medicine - Faculty of Education and Health Sciences, at the University of Limerick. His research interests in Medical Education are in the areas of social accountability of Medical Schools, Teaching and learning, Accreditation, and Cost and Value.

Capacity Building Group Deliverables

The Network Towards Unity for Health (TUFH) is leading a capacity-building group over a five-year period, aiming to drive social accountability in medical and health professional schools worldwide. The work at TUFH is a global movement categorized into three subgroups (1) advocacy, (2) standards, and (3) capacity building. In order to build capacity, TUFH provides institutions with various tools to do so. The tools include hosting symposiums, providing courses, using the Indicators in Social Accountability Institutional Self Assessment Tool (ISAATT), and hosting a fellowship program. These tools help institutions to develop advocacy strategies and revise social accountability standards. 

Once institutions get involved, they often ask, “Where do we start?”. The first and most important step is engagement with members of your institution. The next step is phase selection, where the institution selects from a set of 8 standards to describe what phase they are currently at. Once these steps are complete, the institution has an action plan which outlines the work that needs to be done to become fully socially accountable within the next 1-5 years. TUFH hopes to utilize this tool to promote partner institutions as socially accountable institutions to provide recognition, help them advance their mission statement, and encourage other institutions to join.

What is the societal impact?

The societal impact on population health and social determinants of health is also emphasized by utilizing the ISAATT. There has been the creation of an oversight committee with the goal of expanding offerings in four languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. The project requires collaboration with global leaders and the eventual goal of expanding the program and developing formal courses for participating institutions.

TUFH partnered with the University of Limerick to expand upon the action plans, to also create formal courses that institutions can engage with. Furthermore, a partnership with PAHO was created to provide a virtual campus where these courses can be accessed. 

Building Capacity

The University of Limerick offers two types of capacity-building offerings: seminars and courses with TUFH. The Limerick Seminar on Social Accountability (LiSSA) runs biannually and is offered to the wider community; it takes a conceptual approach focusing on how institutions can understand and implement concepts of social accountability. The University of Limerick and TUFH offer seminars on social accountability every three months, primarily to TUFH members. These seminars take a practical approach; typically, a topic is provided with a brief overview, and groups enter groups where they discuss steps that can be taken to implement social accountability in regard to the given topic. Lastly, two versions of online courses are offered through WHO-EMRO for faculty members and students. 

Group Discussion

The discussion in breakout rooms highlighted the challenges faced in implementing social accountability, such as institutional culture, leadership issues, and resource limitations for community-based education. The need for engaging students and integrating social accountability into the curriculum was stressed, along with the importance of gaining leadership buy-in and engaging accrediting bodies.

Participants emphasized the significance of tailored capacity-building initiatives, the role of communication in sharing success stories, and the need to view accrediting bodies as partners in continuous quality improvement rather than mere auditors. Moreover, they discussed the necessity of interdisciplinary engagement involving researchers and establishing a comprehensive communication strategy to facilitate knowledge sharing between institutions.

The Social Accountability Fellowship program, a key project component, aims to encourage the design and implementation of social accountability principles in participating institutions. The fellowship offers financial support and encourages a team approach, emphasizing the importance of institutional commitment and support.


Stay in touch - there's more to come.

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