Report of the Second National Health Assembly - 23 - 25 March 2007, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
The Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) is the country circle of the Global People’s Health Movement (www.phmovement.org). It was formed in the year 2000 when several national networks collectively organised the first Jan Swasthya Sabha during which over 2000 participants adopted the Indian Peoples Health Charter and launched the JSA to work towards achieving health for all and for equity in health.
Second National Health Assembly (NHA2)
The Second National Health Assembly (NHA2) held in Bhopal from 23rd to 25th March 2007 was the first assembly after the formation of JSA. A lot of preparation and mobilization was done for NHA-2. The JSA Workshop on Campaign Material Preparation for NHA 2 was held in Bangalore from 24 - 25 February 2006. The National workshop on NHA 2 and JSA-NCC (national coordination committee) meeting was held in Secunderabad from July 14-16, 2006. The NHA-2 Preparatory Workshop was held in Bhopal from 4-6 January 2007. The JSA-NCC also met in Delhi during the Indian Social Forum, which was held from 09 - 13 November, 2006. A second series of background booklets on issues of Globalisation and Health, Health Systems in India, Women's Health, Campaign Issues in Child Health, New Technologies in Public Health, Access to Medicines: HIV-AIDS Treatment Access and Access to Essential Medicines were prepared for district and state level trainings. They are also available on the JSA website (www.phm-india.org). Translations of some of the booklets in different Indian languages are also available. Three more booklets on urban health, mental health and health of dalit communities were circulated at the NHA-2. These three booklets will be further modified and brought out into a larger booklet on ‘Health of different sections of people’.
More than 2000 participants from different states of India participated in NHA-2. . Important issues were discussed during plenary sessions and in workshops. In the plenary sessions on the first day, issues pertaining to industrial genocide in Bhopal, displacement caused by Narmada project, globalisation and its impact on peoples’ lives, challenges to the health system in the era of globalisation, presentation of report on peoples rural health watch and the Indian women’s health charter were discussed. In addition there were also presentations on the six years of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan and presentations by the representatives of different national networks. In the parallel sessions, topics such as strengthening and reforming the public health system, regulating the private sector, ensuring access to essential medicines and women’s health rights including focus on population policy, contraceptive choice, and so on were discussed.
On the second day, many more issues were issues discussed in parallel sessions. The issues covered were social exclusions and health care, empowering the socially excluded, ensuring rights to meet basic needs in the era of globalisation (impact on right to food, water and safe environment, ensuring the right to food, ensuring safe water and ensuring a safe environment). A review of JSA activities was also conducted and all state and network convenors, and facilitators from parallel sessions held on 23rd and 24th March 2007 presented their responses to the draft people’s alternative health plan.
Twenty workshops were held on various topics in two parallel sessions on 24th March 2007. The sessions covered were tribal health, children’s right to food – action for children under six, health rights of positive people, panchayati raj institutions (local self govt. institutions) and health, sex selective abortion, mental health, environment and mining, Public Health Act, micronutrients, pulse polio, urban health, alternate health practices and sustainable development, human resources for health care, sexuality minorities and sex workers, violence against women, disability, community based monitoring of National Rural Health Mission, Bhopal gas tragedy and patents and IPRs.
On 25th March 2007, a tri-continental dialogue was held on the theme of experiences on globalisation and subversion of public health from Africa, Asia and Latin America and the emerging response. It included presentations by David Sanders of PHM South Africa, Edelina De La Paz of PHM Philippines and Armando De Negri of PHM Brazil who presented the experiences and emergining responses from their continents. The session was chaired by Maria Hamlin Zunega of PHM Latin America and Thelma Narayan of JSA.
In the second session, a message from Halfdan Mahler, the former Director General of WHO was read out. Lanny Smith from PHM USA presented about PHM at the World Social Forum. Jeff Conant from PHM USA presented about the Right to Water campaign in the Americas. This was followed by two moving presentations about Militarisation and Health by Jihad Mashal of PHM Palestine and Salam Obaidi of PHM Iraq. Maija Kagis from PHM Canada presented about Right to Health Care, while Ghassan Issa of PHM, Lebabnon presented about the journey of PHM Global from Savar to Cuenca and about meeting the various challenges through the years.
This was followed by a session titled “Alliances of Health”. The session was a bringing together of various campaigns and planning for involvement of JSA in those campaigns and vice-versa. The campaigns represented were Right to Food Campaign presented by Jean Dreze, Right to Information presented by Suchi, Tribunal on World Bank presented by Deepika D’ Souza, Dalit Rights presented by Annie Namala and Child Rights presented by Razia Ismail Abbasi.
Three parallel sessions were held on the third day (25th March 2007), including:
1)Peoples Rural Health watch; Monitoring the Public Health System and Intensifying the Right to Health Campaign including Private Sector Regulation.
2)Effective Campaigning for Women’s Health and Campaigning Against Coercive Population Policies
3)Realising the Right to Essential Drugs and Ensuring Rational Drug Use.
This was followed by a dialogue with policy makers. Shri. Amarjeet Sinha, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare made a presentation and responded to some of the issues of concern raised by JSA. The lone political party representative was an MP who belonged to the CPI (M) in West Bengal.
The concluding session was chaired by Dr. Kuldeep Singh Tanwar. Smt. Sudha Sundararaman, National General Secretary of AIDWA made brief concluding remarks and Dr. B. Ekbal, National Convenor of JSA read out a statement expressing concern over SEZs.
Vinay and Charu from the Muktinad cultural organisation in Ahmedabad presented an amazing array of songs on various soicla issues, especially those concerning communalism and violence. Cultural presentations by different state groups were held at various times on all three days of the assembly.
The various networks, states units, campaigns and other organisations set up stalls which were used to disseminate information, sell herbal products, books, posters and other health related literature. The stalls were also used to create awareness and mobilise people for different campaigns.
The Nation Co-ordination Committee of JSA was held on the second day of the assembly in the evening. The Global PHM held its steering committee meeting after NHA-2. The members of the steering council participated in the various events held over the three days. They were also involved in facilitating and sharing their expertise, experience and passion with 13 young participants who attended the second Internal’s People’s Health University course which was held in parallel with NHA-2. The participants of the IPHU, who hailed from several countries also attended various sessions of the NHA-2.
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