Good governance and sustainability: a case study from Pakistan

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Objective: On the basis of a case study in Pakistan, the paper argues that good governance, characterized by transparency, accountability and meaningful community participation, plays a critical role in the sustainability of donor-funded health systems projects in the public health sector.Methods: The Family Health Project (FHP) (1992-1999), funded by the World Bank, has been used as a case study. Critical analysis of secondary data mainly obtained from the Department of Health (DoH) in the province of Sindh in Pakistan is the major tool used for the study. Data from other sources including the World Bank have also been used.Results: The analysis reveals that the existing health care system could not fully absorb and sustain major "sociopolitical" thrusts of the project, meaningful community participation and "democratic" decision-making processes being the most important ones. The hierarchical structure and management process made it difficult to produce a sense of ownership of the project among all managers and the rank and file staff. The Provincial Health Development Center (PHDC) and District Health Development Centers (DHDCs) established by the FHP did not receive adequate financial and political support from DoH and the Ministry of Health to have much control of the project at the local level. Consequently, these Centers largely failed to institutionalize a continuing training program for district level health officials/professionals. Due to lack of political support, the District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) could not be institutionalized. Community participation in the DHMTs was symbolic rather than forceful. Improved coordination among all stakeholders, more stable and competent leadership, more meaningful community participation, greater devolution of project management to the district level, and better management of resources would have resulted in more effective and efficient implementation of the project. Based on these findings, the paper introduces a Sustainable Management Approach (SMA) as a tool that can be used to ensure the sustainability of health systems projects, particularly those funded by international organizations in developing countries.CONCLUSIONS: Good governance and a conducive organizational culture are important prerequisites for incorporating any new project within an existing system. This includes prior consensus building among all stakeholders, a meaningful and inclusive participatory planning, implementation and evaluation process involving communities, political commitment, and the identification and use of appropriate leadership for project management.

Publication (Name of Journal)

The International Journal of Health Planning and Management