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.