“Struggle for Health”: IPHU Nairobi, December 2023
The International People’s Health University (IPHU) Nairobi 2023 short course on “Action for Equitable Health Systems – Advancing universal comprehensive primary health care in pandemic times” organized by People’s Health Movement Kenya in coordination with the PHMs Equitable Health Systems Thematic circle and the concerned regional PHMs of East and Southern Africa, was organized to build the capacities of young health activists from East and Southern Africa (ESA) region. The six-day IPHU short course provided the activists with knowledge and skills to enhance advocacy for health rights, promote health for all goals and strengthen public health systems in communities they work in.
Participants came from nine countries, South Africa 4, Uganda 7, Tanzania 3, Malawi 3, Zambia 4, Burundi 2, Zimbabwe 1, Lesotho 1 and the host country Kenya 16, Resource Person 10 onsite plus Lauren, Hani, Leign, Unni and Elizabeth Joining online.
Total Participants Throughout the 6 days IPHU short course, activists gained the basic understanding
on the equitable health systems, that included:
- Understanding the Alma Ata Declaration and People's Charter for Health, the circumstances under which these were developed and the political understandings these are based on.
- Developing a critical political economy-based understanding of why health and all of healthcare must be valued as public goods, and the implications of this for the design of health systems.
- Understanding the political, social and economic structures and dynamics (at the local, national and global levels), which frame the social and environmental determinants of health as well as influence health policies.
- Understanding the health care reforms of the nineties and the universal health coverage discourse of the recent decade and how these have affected or are affecting progress towards universal health care built on a primary health care approach.
- Activists learned about positive examples from Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) that have been able to make substantial progress in achieving the right to health, and in delivering people centered, community-based health services. Participants gained knowledge and conceptual tools for equity sensitive health systems analysis of national health systems so as to understand the challenges they face with regard to progress towards universal health care and build a common understanding on transformation of health systems.
Participants (Activists) were also taken through to understand how policies are framed and how people’s movements and civil society organizations have been able to influence policy and improve outcomes and the theories of change with which people’s health movements make their contribution. Activists were armed with practical knowledge and movement building tools so they can carry out/support effective campaigns in their areas/ regions towards Health for All. The short course also emphasized on the importance of equitable health systems, community engagement, and the impact of globalization on health.
The short course discussions also covered health policies, disease control strategies, and the intersection between gender and health, emphasizing the role of community-driven programs. Participants’ reflections revealed the transformative impact of the short course, with participants gaining new insights into health issues, activism, and the interconnected nature of health disparities. Most of the country's presentations focused more on common challenges in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Primary Healthcare (PHC), stressing the need to address social determinants of health.
Participants show the logic that the struggle for equitable health systems can only succeed when they get involved as champions and activists who understand the importance of building equitable health systems around the principle that, ‘health and healthcare is an entitlement of all human beings’ and who have the skills to analyze where they are on the road map and mobilize people as well as advocate with government for an accelerated push towards health for all.
Participants of IPHU Nairobi 2023 short course stressed the urgency of ongoing collaboration, formation of country’s circles, and the establishment of accountability structures in the struggle for health for all. Participants left Nairobi very determined to get involved in various PHM campaigns in their countries and circles to achieve the PHM’s shared visions of ‘Health for all’.
The International People’s Health University (IPHU) of the People’s Health Movement (PHM) is one of PHM’s global programmes of involving education and capacity building/exchange that PHM organizes for young activists/professionals who are already engaged, or seek to contribute to advocacy for health rights, promoting health for all goals and strengthening public health systems.