The People’s Health Movement

People's Health Movement logo

The People’s Health Movement is a global network of grassroots health activists, civil society organisations and academic institutions, particularly from developing countries, campaigning for Health For All.

The People’s Health Movement’s history, analysis and positioning is a fundamental part of Health Poverty Action’s identity. This is recognised by Health Poverty Action being one of only a handful of NGOs in the world that is awarded the status of being formally affiliated to the movement.

The People’s Health Movement and Alma Ata 

Health campaigners worldwide achieved a major breakthrough in 1978, at the UN Alma-Ata Conference on Primary Health Care.  This conference statement signalled a new approach to health care, often described as the ‘primary health care approach’ or the ‘Alma-Ata principles’ – deeply rooted in the social and structural determinants of health, and emphasising the importance of accountability to the people.  A global target of achieving “Health for All” by the year 2000 was also established.

The People’s Health Movement and Primary Health Care

This term is often (mistakenly) understood to mean the primary level of the health service.  This misunderstanding is a particular problem when applied to development, playing to the prejudice that what’s appropriate for poor people is just basic, low-tech healthcare.  In fact, Primary Health Care means something different, and embraces all sectors, not just health.  ‘Primary’ refers to two things:

1) Addressing the primary determinants of health – the root causes, including social, economic, conflict and environmental.

2) Primary in terms of accountability – accountable and accessible to those affected.

Health Poverty Action was born out of this primary health care movement.  We have always been part of it, and it remains our primary global network (now known as the People’s Health Movement).

Birth of the People’s Health Movement (PHM)

In the year 2000, in response to the failure to achieve Health for All, health activists organised the first People’s Health Assembly (in Bangladesh), attended by thousands of civil society representatives (including Health Poverty Action).  This gave birth to the People’s Health Movement, and its many initiatives such as Global Health Watch, WHO Watch, the International People’s Health University, and numerous Right to Health campaigns.

For more information on the People’s Health Movement check out their website.

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