People's Health Assembly
How it all started
In the beginning, there were thousands of people across the world working very hard in big and little ways to promote the dream of a world where a healthy life is a reality for all. In the optimistic, joyous, compassionate 1970’s it seemed that this would be possible. And was not the Alma Ata Declaration signed by 134 governments in 1978? Did not the declaration promise Health For All by 2000? When the millennium edged closer and equitable health policy was still nowhere the optimists did not give up. They knew that the Third World had been plunged into debt and health care was in danger of complete privatization. To remind the world of the commitment made in more hopeful times the optimists came together in solidarity.
When the optimists met
People's organizations, civil society organizations, NGOs, social activists, health professionals, academics and researchers came together to make a strong statement against the studied indifference in this crucial area of human life. The First People's Health Assembly was organized in Savar, Bangladesh in December 2000 to discuss the Health for All Challenge. The 5 day meet led to sharing of experiences from across the globe.
The assembly in a single voice condemned the international institutions, multinational corporations and governments which are willingly pursuing anti-people policies. The multi-national corporations who push for policies which put profits before people and the proponents of liberalisation who recommend that governments should cut expenditure on social sector like health and education came in for scathing criticism. In all 1453 participants from 75 countries came together to create and endorse a consensus document called the People's Charter for Health. The charter reflects the vision, goals, principles and calls for action that unite all the members of the PHM coalition It is most widely endorsed consensus document on health since the Alma Ata Declaration.
The Movement: From Savar to Cuenca
The participants of the assembly took strength from each other and reiterated their goal to seek more compassionate and equitable health policy. The time for lonely battles was over because the threats were global and it was only a question of who went under first. Since Savar, the People’s Health Assembly knit into a movement of over 80 nations across the world, sharing energy, knowledge and resources. Affirming the goals of that first meeting, the Second People’s Health Assembly met in July 2005 in Cuenca, Ecuador.
The Assembly was the result of a process of local and national reflection, discussion, debate and exchange of experiences of communities and networks as well as conferences and workshops about the aspects that influence the health and well being of everyone. And the optimists asked the voices of the earth to demand “Health for All Now!”