PHM USA Supports Occupy Wall Street Protests

18 Nov 2011

People’s Health Movement (PHM) in the United States stands with the ongoing Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and related protests in New York  and cities around the world. We urge people affiliated with PHM to participate in this movement to overcome ill-health caused by social, political and economic systems that reproduce inequality and social injustice -  what we call the social determinants of health. The national and global economic, political, health, education, and justice systems are broken. They are making us sick, and we cannot fix them through institutional politics because corporations have control over most aspects of our government.

At the World Health Organization World Conference on Social Determinants of Health this October, PHM again expressed its commitment to action on SDH , based on renewed recognition from global actors that most health inequity is caused by an unequal distribution of wealth and power in the world.

“Behind the immediate determinants of health (education, housing, decent jobs, food security, social protection and universal health care) lie the deeper structural determinants including unequal power relations and unequal access to resources and decision making. Widening inequalities and institutionalized discrimination across axes of class, race, gender, ethnicity, caste, indigeneity, age and ability contribute to the impossibility of good health. Action on these structural determinants of health is essential to overcome the economic, environmental, development and food crises”.

In the US, 291,000 deaths were recently estimated to have been caused by the combined impact of poverty and income inequality in the year 2000 alone (Galea et al., 2011).

In particular, PHM stands in solidarity with OWS in calling for an end to corporate sponsorship of elections (described in the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City). Corporations are not human beings, and their unprecedented political influence undermines both democratic process and health rights. We also call for an end to corporate infiltration of global health, corporate influence over the health system (in the US and elsewhere), and the continuing trend to privatize and commodify all of our human rights and needs in search of ever higher profits. In doing so, we reject the way the 1 per cent undermines the health of the 99 per cent.

We call upon all our affiliates and those who believe in a healthy future for all, including those in the health sector and beyond, to join us in endorsement of, and participation in, the OWS movement. In this respect, we:

  1. Encourage participation our local OWS protests and encampments, and initiation of protests if necessary. Schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods can establish their own General Assemblies.
  2. Encourage the active participation in OWS General Assemblies, committees, and action groups, to help channel our collective anger at the current economic, environmental, and other crises to where it may be most productive.
  3. Will use the principles of the People’s Charter for Health and the human rights framework in our work with OWS. We encourage you to share the Charter with the people you meet.
  4. Suggest signing up at an encampment to give a teach-in on the Charter, the SDH, the political economy of health, human rights, or any topic you want to teach or learn about. Use popular education methods.
  5. We strongly encourage the participation of youth and marginalized communities (including communities of color) in these protests, given it is their future that is most at stake. We urge PHM members to reach out to these communities and promote their inclusion and leadership. We support actions addressing the disproportionate impacts of the financial and other crises faced by communities of color.
  6. Ask that you post information about the actions you are taking on the PHM USA listserv
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