First PHM USA national in-person meeting comes up with lots of work to do!

23 Aug 2011

28 People’s Health Movement activists participated in the 1st PHM USA National Meeting held July 28th and 29th in Los Angeles. We discussed what PHM is and what it means to endorse the People’s Charter for Health and to be a part of the movement. Drawing upon the results of the membership survey conducted before the meeting, and attendees’ current political work, we developed four issue areas in which PHM US will focus its domestic movement building activities.
A SWOT analysis helped us identify an overall strategic approach for PHM in the US. Unlike most US organizations, PHM is not issue–based. Instead we offer an explicit framework of values and analysis based in the People’s Charter for Health that can be used to address any issue or problem. This framework integrates "treatment" (e.g. access to health care, meds and other services, etc) and "prevention" (e.g. addressing social, political, and economic determinants of health) in a way that facilitates connections between groups working on different issues. The PHM network offers relationships to leading experts and activists in health related fields from around the world.
Within the issue areas identified at the meeting, the overall strategy of PHM USA is not to do the work that existing organizations are already doing, but to share the analysis of the PHM to support activists to use health arguments and human rights strategies effectively, to link organizations across issues, and to take advantage international solidarity relationships. Because the knowledge and experience underpinning the Charter integrates various fields including public health, political economy, and human rights, most new PHM activists need some training to fully utilize the framework. This activist training is provided in PHM through International People’s Health University short courses, and two are planned in the next two years.
Over the next 2-3 years PHM USA will focus out outreach to the following issue communities. If you would like to participate in a workgroup, please contact them through the email provided.
Environmental Justice: EJ activists and IPHU New York participants from Houston and Galveston will organize an IPHU with an EJ theme in the “PetroMetro,” tentative date, spring 2012. Among the goals of the IPHU are to strengthen EJ communities by making the connection to health, and incorporating it into advocacy efforts: to improve coordination and communication among communities internationally; and build on the solidarity generated by understanding how problems and solutions are shared locally, nationally, internationally.  There are also discussions underway about how to provide some kind of medical support for people with BP oil spill related health problems. Contact:

Health systems and US Health Care reform: “Health for all” doesn’t just mean getting insurance companies out of medicine in the US, although that is a necessary step. This work group will be reaching out to key organizations and individuals working on health care reform and related issues to discuss how using a health systems and human rights approach can broaden the movement for real reform. The inclusion of all US residents in all health programs will be stressed. We’ll also be making an effort to present the international consensus on health to student health professionals. Under consideration is an IPHU in 2013 with a health systems theme. Contact:

Militarism: The US military impacts health in the US and globally through multiple mechanisms. Work group members will be sharing the PHM framework with the organizations they are already working with on various related issues, including anti-war, the military budget, nuclear weapons and energy, environmental impacts and military bases, to support them in using health analyses against militarism, to help build international solidarity networks, and to bring together groups working on the myriad aspects of this topic. Contact:  
Economy/worker health and safety: A small group within PHM has already been working individually on this issue both nationally and internationally. They will identify key groups in the areas of domestic workers rights, living wage, worker safety, poverty, race and inequality, to support them to include health impacts in their analyses and campaigns. Contact:
There are a few other issue areas not addressed at the meeting that we know are important to PHM USA members.  These include trade and health, food sovereignty, and essential medicines. The coordination group will be reaching out to people who were unable to attend the meeting who we think can take these areas forward.
Other discussion at the meeting included launching the Global Health Watch 3, mobilization towards the 3rd People’s Health Assembly, and how we should organize with PHM global to address the US power and its effects on health worldwide.

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