What is the People’s Health Movement – PHM
The PHM is a global network bringing together grassroots health activists, civil society organizations and academic institutions from around the world, particularly from low and middle income countries (L&MIC). We currently have a presence in around 70 countries. Guided by the People’s Charter for Health (PCH), PHM works on various programmes and activities and is committed to Comprehensive Primary Health Care and addressing the Social, Environmental and Economic Determinants of Health.
The world is facing a global health crisis characterized by growing inequities within and among nations and millions of preventable deaths, especially among the poor. These are in large degree due to unfair economic structures which lock people into poverty and poor health. In 2000, concerned activists, academics and health workers got together for the first People’s Health Assembly. The People’s Charter for Health (PCH), our founding document was developed and PHM was born.
The People’s Charter for Health – PCH, is the framework within which PHM acts and offers strategic guidance to the movement. It is both a tool for advocacy and a framework for action. By endorsing the Charter one becomes part of PHM. The PCH endorses the Alma Ata declaration, and affirms health as a social, economic and political issue but above all, a fundamental human right.
The Cape Town Call to Action, adopted at the Third people’s Health assembly in Cape Town, South Africa, deepens and updates the analysis in the PCH
The declaration of the Fourth People’s Health Assembly held in Bangladesh in 2018 can be found here.
Vision of PHM: “Equity, ecologically-sustainable development and peace are at the heart of our vision of a better world – a world in which a healthy life for all is a reality; a world that respects, appreciates and celebrates all life and diversity; a world that enables the flowering of people’s talents and abilities to enrich each other; a world in which people’s voices guide the decisions that shape our lives….”
- To promote Health for All through an equitable, participatory and inter-sectoral movement and as a Rights Issue.
- To advocate for government and other health agencies to ensure universal access to quality health care, education and social services according to people’s needs and not their ability to pay.
- To promote the participation of people and people’s organisations in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of all health and social policies and programmes.
- To promote health along with equity and sustainable development as top priorities in local, national and international policymaking.
- To encourage people to develop their own solutions to local health problems.
- To hold local authorities, national governments, international organisations and corporations accountable.
Structure of PHM
PHM is a network of networks, organisations and individuals with some centrally supported programs (for more information refer below). As a movement, we do not follow rigid structures, but broadly speaking PHM is structured as follows:
On country level, PHM manifest in the form of groups coming together nationally or locally. Country circles or sometimes called ‘local chapters’ grow according to the country’s need; they are most often loose networks which come together for joint action around specific issues, but can be formalised and legalised as an organisation. There is no set way on how PHM organises locally as this depends on the local context, chosen activities and the circumstances of the people building PHM.
Regionally, PHM aims to build coalitions and networks to encourage support, sharing and learning. Regional collaboration also offers a platform for organising and advocacy on regional and global health governance. It builds solidarity around issues specific to the region and a strong base for action (locally, regionally and globally).
The main tasks for regional structures are:
- supporting country circle development
- supporting communication and collaboration between countries
- supporting two way communication between countries and global actions and structures
- strengthening representativeness and mutual accountability
The way each region coordinates itself, is defined by the needs and context of the region. Centrally PHM aims to employ regional coordinators for each region. So far only Africa and the Middle East Regions have such coordinator.
Each PHM region is represented in the Global Steering Council.
Some local, regional or global networks have affiliated with the PHM.
Please find below a list of the PHM affiliated networks with a link to their website and to their profile
- Medicus Mundi International Network – MMI
- Health Poverty Action – HPA
- Latin American Association of Social Medicine – ALAMES
- International People’s Health Council – IPHC
- Gonoshasthaya Kendra – People’s Health Centre – GK
- Health Action International – HAI
- Third World Network – TWN
- HAI Asia Pacific
- International Baby Food Network – IBFAN
- Resource Group for Women and Health – SAMA
CLICK here for profiles of all affiliated networks
PHM as a driver for change
The core work of PHM is that of its constituent parts, in particular the country circles and the international networks. As a network organization, it provides communication channels and opportunities that link the very diverse elements of the larger movement. PHM Global also supports ad hoc policy work and campaigning on various issues and topics on the global policy agenda. There has been a continuous flow of publications, submissions and statements arising from this kind of policy coordination.
Centrally supported programs
PHM Global coordinates a number of programs at global and regional levels that integrate the efforts of the country circles and global networks such as:
- People’s Health Assembly (PHA) held approximately every five years, which draws in civil society organizations and networks, social movements, academia and other stakeholders from around the globe. The PHA provides a unique space for sharing experiences, mutual learning and joint strategizing for future actions. The first PHA was held in Savar, Bangladesh in December 2000 and was attended by more than 1453 people from 75 countries; the People’s Charter for Health was developed and endorsed at PHA1. The second Assembly was held in Cuenca, Ecuador in July 2005 and attended by 1492 people from 92 countries. The third Assembly was held in Cape Town (South Africa) 6-11 2012 and attended by about 1000 people from over 90 countries. The fourth and the most recent Fourth People’s Health Assembly was held in Savar, Bangladesh in 2018 and attended by around 2000 people from over 70 countries.
- Global Health Watch (GHW) is an alternative World Health Report. Four reports have been published (GHW1,GHW2, GHW3 and GHW4) in 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014 respectively. GHW5 is being worked on now and planned to be released in 2017.
- International People’s Health University (IPHU) is PHM’s main educational and research program. The IPHU has organized over 25 short courses entitled ‘The Struggle for Health’ of 2-week duration each. The courses have been organized in over 15 countries so far, in 9 languages and attended by about 1500 health activists from more than 60 countries. Many of these participants form the core of country circle organising and activities.
- The Health for All Campaign (HFAC) is a global organising framework for different mobilisation actions by civil society networks and social movements around the world and aims to inform and influence governments to address structural and systemic weaknesses in the health system. The campaign was initiated following the success of the Indian RTHC campaign, which used participatory surveys, public hearings and the documentation of cases of denial combined with mass mobilization to inform and influence government to address structural and systemic weaknesses in the health system, particularly in rural areas.
- PHM’s Global Health Governance (GHG) initiative aims to improve the global environment for health by changing the information flows and power relations which frame global health decision-making and implementation. The project was launched as an initiative of the PHM, the South Center, the Third World Network and other international organizations and networks. The focus is currently ‘watching’ and providing critical support to the World Health Organizations (WHO).
PHM as a platform for analysis, campaigning, mobilising, advocacy and resistance
Practically this translates to:
- Sharing and/or developing resources including analysis of issues of interest to PHM e.g. analysis of WHO World Health Assembly and Executive Board resolutions and agenda discussion items.
- Building networks between organisation and individuals for campaigning around jointly identified issues.
- Reaching out to communities for awareness raising and mobilising
- Actions of country, regional and global solidarity
- Organising training for advocacy such as the IPHU
Some examples are:
- Indian RTH Campaign: demanding accountability
- Guatemala health promoters: community involvement
- Ecuador mobilisation around extractive industries
- Solidarity actions in South Africa against xenophobia
Several of PHM’s programs provide space for the development of PHM as a platform for action.
- The Health for All Campaign will aim to build networks for joint action and links between communities across the world to raise awareness and mobilise around the need to work towards achieving Health For All Now!.
- The International People’s Health University in addition to providing young activists with content information around issues such as globalisation and trade agreements, health systems, social determinants of health, etc, also provides training in analysis and advocacy.
- In addition to being a resource for information, current research and alternative analysis of issues, GHW provides a framework for solidarity and tools for action.
PHM’s actions are not limited to the programs centrally coordinated by PHM. PHM is a social movement and therefore provides space and where possible support to all actions that fall within the framework of the People’s Charter for Health organised at the community, national, regional or global level.
PHM as network builder, building solidarity and collaboration
PHM facilitates to build networks and solidarity between different struggles, networks and movements, between countries and across different constituencies.
- building personal relationships within and across boundaries (languages, issues, struggles, gender, race, etc)
- encouraging dialogue, listening and respect
- sharing of experiences, stories and struggles
- Giving background to the bigger picture in which the connections and networks are more evident
- collaborative action
Some examples are:
- RTHC campaign in West and Central Africa
- links between health activists and trade activists
- links with labour movement in UK, South Africa, etc
- involvement in right to food campaign
Although most of above happens at a local level, centrally PHM offers some platforms to facilitate above. These are the website, facebook page, the RTH campaigns, the country pages on the PHM website, the newsletter and the PHM exchange.
PHM creates also opportunities for health activists from across the world to meet face to face during for example the IPHU’s or the WHO Watch. Locally, PHM activist set up civil society meeting under the umbrella of PHM.
PHM is about building alliances and networks with likeminded activists and organisations, it is about finding that common ground to make change, to build solidarity, share experiences and fight for Health for All. Locally as well as globally, people part of PHM spread the message of PHM and are building the movement creating momentum for change.
PHM as a bridge between the local and the global
More specifically this entails:
- supporting the articulation of grass roots perspectives in global forums
- highlighting the ways in which local issues reflect global dynamics
- providing analysis and resources that inform local activists about global policies and events affecting countries and local communities;
- increasing capacity of local activists to understand and engage with global issues
PHM aims to be such a bridge by
- developing our analysis of the bigger picture in which the links between the local and the global are evident
- sharing this bigger picture analysis
- training and capacity building
Some examples are
- IP campaigning in India (2005 amendments to the Indian Patent ACT)
- WHO Watch: building the links between global and local (PHM Ghana)
- Guatemala IPHU with focus on interculturality
- PHM’s involvement in monitoring and evaluation of IHP+ – pushing for country level engagement
Centrally PHM offers following platforms to encourage this function of the movement: WHO watch, the newsletter, the Health For All Campaign with both WHO Watch and IPHU increasing capacity of young activists to engage in global issues. PHM also facilitates and advocates for grassroots perspectives to be reflected in relevant regional and global forums.
In late 2010, a governance renewal process was proposed and agreed. Below is an overview of the current structure which was endorsed in January 2016 at the Steering Council Meeting of PHM:
Global Steering Council
The PHM global governance renewal process aims to ensure representation of active PHM structures in the Steering Council; to encourage the development of young leadership while honouring experience; and to include principles of transparency, renewal and participation. Every 3 years, during the governance renewal process of PHM, some SC members step down to allow space for young health activists who have demonstrated commitment and capacity within their region and globally.
The SC is the principal decision making body of PHM. The main task of the SC is to provide strategic guidance to the movement, promote the People’s Charter for Health, develop positions and ensure fluent two way communications between the PHM and the region/network/program they represent. Communication with country circles is an important function of regional representatives.
Decisions between two SC meetings are made using email and Skype and are supported by advice from the CoCo.
The Global Steering Council consists of representatives of:
- The regional structures of the PHM (each region is constituted by one or more country circle),
- PHM global programs,
- PHM affiliated networks, and
- Chairperson of Advisory Council
A principle of rotation is built into PHM’s governance structure, recognising a need for both continuity and change. Each Committee functions for 3 years, and no person would be on the committee for more than two terms. Representation rotates between different active countries in a region and within networks.
Find below the email addresses of the confirmed new SC representatives, as decided by the SC meeting of the PHM in April 2022. We will continue to update this as representation is finalised.
|Africa South & East||Peninah Khisa; Melanie Alperstein (alternate)||peninahkhisa [at] gmail.com; melani.alp [at] gmail.com|
|Africa West||Erick Kambale; Tonniè Fofana (alternate)||erick.kambale.eds [at] gmail.com; fofanatonnie [at] yahoo.fr|
|South Asia||Manuj Weerasinghe; Sharad Onta (alternate)||manujchri [at] gmail.com ; sharadonta [at] gmail.
|South East Asia||Paul Laris; Sophea (alternate)||laris.paul [at] gmail.com; chreksophea [at] gmail.com|
|Middle East||Shatha Odeh; Kamel Mohanna (alternate)||shathaodeh [at] hotmail.com; kamelmohanna [at] amel.org|
|Mesoamerica||Hugo Icu Peren; MorenoMurillo||icuperen [at] yahoo.com; morena.murillo [at] gmail.com|
|Andean Region||Ricardo Ramirez||ricardo2ramirez33 [at] yahoo.com|
|Brazil||Matheus Falcão; Clara (alternate)||matheus.falcao [at] usp.br; clara [at] abiaids.org.br|
|Southern Cone||Carmen Baez; Mariluz Martin (alternate)||carmenbaez5 [at] gmail.com; martinmariluz [at] gmail.com|
|India||Sulakshana Nandi; Amulya Nidhi||sulakshana [at] phmovement.org; amulyab
|Europe||Ana Vračar; Marianna Bettinzoli (alternate)||vracar.ana [at] gmail.com; marybetty [at] hotmail.
|North America||Anne-Emanuelle Birn||ae.birn [at] utoronto.ca|
|Health for All||Sarojini N||sarojini_n [at] phmovement.org|
|Global Health Governance||Lauren Paremoer||lparemoer [at] gmail.com|
|IPHU||Hani Serag||haserag [at] utmb.edu|
|GHW||Ronald Labonte||rlabonte [at] uottawa.ca|
|Alames||Andrés Varela; Roselia Rosales (alternate)||varelamolina [at] gmail.com; roselia.rosales [at] uacm.edu.mx|
|TWN||Yoke Ling||yokeling [at] twnetwork.org|
deepa.venkatachalam [at] gmail.com
|Past Global Coordinator||Sundararaman T.||sundar [at] phmovement.org|
|Current Global Coordinator||Roman Vega||roman [at] phmovement.org|
|Financial Host||Wim De Ceukelaire||wim [at] vivasalud.be|
|Advisory Council||Alexis Benos||abenos [at] gmail.com|
*Note: The global PHM structure recognises each region as having one person formally represented on global SC; in addition each region has an alternate who works with the formal representative in the region, and stands in for them as required. However some regions (for example India and Latin America) recognise the two (representative and alternate) as equally representing the region
The Coordinating Commission is the executive body of the SC, that is appointed by the SC and includes the two co-chairs of the SC. CoCo meets over Skype once a month and supports the work of the global secretariat within the framework set by the SC.
Following are part of the Coordinating Commission :
Sulakshana Nandi (co-chair), Hani Serag (co-chair), Roman Vega (Global Co-ordinator – Ex Officio); Wim De Ceukelaire (Financial Host- Ex Officio); Sundararaman T. (Past Global Co-ordinator – Ex Officio), Ana Vracar, Shatha Odeh, Matheus Falcao, Carmen Baez, Peninah Khisa, Yoke Ling
There are a number of people who have informed PHM’s positions and been central to the development of PHM since inception. To ensure continued utilisation of the wisdom and guidance of some of these long standing members of PHM, an Advisory Council has been constituted, This is a formal and recognised structure, with the chairperson a member of the SC. Please refer to below for further details
The Advisory Council Members are:
- Prem John: premchandranjohn [@] gmail.com
- Ravi Nayaran: chcravi [@] gmail.com
- Alexis Benos: abenos [@] phmovement.org
- Fran Baum: fbaum [@] phmovement.org
- Mira Shiva: mirashiva [at] gmail.com
- Maria Zuniga: : mhamlin [at] phmovement.org
- Zafrullah Chowdhurry: zaf.chowdhurry [at] gmail.com
- Sarah Shannon: sarahs [at] hesperian.org
- Jihad Mashal: jihadmashal [at] yahoo.com
- Lanny Smith: landgh [@]gmail.com
- Delen De La Paz: delen27 [at] gmail.com
- Claudio Schuftan: schuftan [at] gmail.com
- Sarojini Nadimpally: sarojinipr [at] gmail.com
- David G Legge: dlegge [at] phmovement.org
CLICK HERE for more information on the role and function of the Advisory Committee – the Bios of advisory council will be made available soon.
As part of the governance renewal process, PHM has reviewed and expanded affiliated networks. Four of these will serve on the SC on a rotational basis.
The PHM Handbook has been developed as part of the mandate derived from the PHM Strategic Plan 2020-2025. We quote below the purpose and description of such a handbook as it appears in the strategic plan.
“Develop a PHM Handbook.
- To improve onboarding guidance for PHM staff and volunteer activists as well as general transparency and consistency, the handbook will collect existing PHM governance and operational policies as well as information on roles, responsibilities, current representatives/coordinators, and resources.
- Additional information will be documented including Secretariat responsibilities and accountability structures; guidelines for succession planning for key staff and volunteer roles; information on the ICT system and various resources and processes; thematic circle operations and links to best practices; guidelines for country circle functions, including establishing new and renewing existing circles, communication expectations and other responsibilities, and links to resources; and a refreshed mandate for the Advisory Council to address their role working as a collective advisory structure, communications with the SC and other PHM groups, and processes for engaging roles in fundraising, mentoring, and bridge building with other movements and networks..
- This comprehensive and living handbook will support PHM’s institutional memory and enhance continuity and coordination of work across groups and time. “Mandate from the Strategic Plan-Pg. 36 section 8, of Strategies and Priority Actions for Strengthening PHM Movement”
Policy to Address SEXUAL HARASSMENT (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) in PHM
PHM strongly believes that sexual harassment results in violation of the fundamental right of a person to equality, right to life, and to live with dignity. The pervasiveness of sexual harassment indicates the distance that remains to be traversed towards achieving equality, justice, and the creation of safe convening, working, and living environments. As the PHM, our goal of health for all encompasses all of these and we stand united in condemning all sexual harassment and violence.
The Policy to Address Sexual Harassment (prevention, prohibition and redressal) in PHM applies to PHM Secretariat/s; all PHM Spaces and Activities -the Workplace, Secretariat, Regional Chapters, Webinars, Meetings, People’s Health Assembly (PHA), WHO Watch, Workshops and International People’s Health University (IPHU).
- Sarojini Nadimpally: [email protected]; +919818664634
- Fran Baum: [email protected]
- Camila Giugliani: [email protected]
- Peninah Khisa: [email protected]
The Global Secretariat is the executive body of the PHM. Currently PHM secretariat is geographically decentralised. Secretariat members are located in Colombia, Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Italy, Egypt and India.
The current members of Global Secretariat are:
Roman Vega (Global Coordinator): roman[at]phmovement[dot]org
- Candelaria Aráoz Falcón (Global Coordinator Assistant): candelaria[at]phmovement[dot]org
Susana Barria (Governance and movement building officer (Honorary)): sbarria[at]phmovement[dot]org
Leonardo Vidal Mattos (Program coordinator – Health For All Campaign): leo.mattos[at]phmovement[dot]org
Deepika Joshi (Program coordinator – Health For All Campaign): deepika[at]phmovement[dot]org
Gargeya Telakapalli (Program coordinator – Global Health Governance): gargeya.t[at]phmovement[dot]org
- Chiara Bodini (Program coordinator – Global Health Watch): chiara[at]phmovement[dot]org
- Yasser Ali Ebeid (Program coordinator – International People’s Health University): yasser[at]phmovement[dot]org
- Jyotsna Singh (Communication officer): jyotsna[at]phmovement[dot]org
- Miguel Garcia (Communication officer): miguel[at]phmovement[dot]org
David Verstockt (Programs manager): david[at]vivasalud[dot]be
It needs to be noted that the employed staff of PHM are small in number, and likewise acknowledged that PHM draws heavily on the use of volunteers. All people on the Steering Council, CoCo and the Advisory Council are volunteers. Many of our programmes such as the International People’s Health University and WHO Watch also draw heavily on volunteers