Summary Taking as read the need for strong and effective partnerships between health service providers and consumers, the article addresses an example of successful partnership from Zambia. It identifies a community?based organisation (CBO), namely the (Health) Neighbourhood Committee (NC), as the ideal institution through which this partnership should be forged in this context. It is here strongly suggested that the NC, which is already carrying out some important ‘partnership’ functions in most districts of the country, be developed further to enable it to articulate community concerns on health and other related social issues to the other, often more powerful and better organised, stakeholders. In collaboration with these stakeholders, the NC can ensure equitable access to quality health services and create a sense of ownership over health facilities. The article draws on lessons learnt from other CBOs working in other sectors. This is done in order not to try to re?invent the wheel of community partnerships all over again, but to learn what can and has worked and what does not work.