Thirty five years ago health campaigners achieved a major breakthrough at the UN Alma-Ata Conference on Primary Health Care. The conference statement signalled a new approach to health care, often described as the ‘primary health care approach’ or the ‘Alma-Ata principles’ – an approach 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.
When it got to 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.
David Sanders, Professor at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa and one of the founders of the People’s Health Movement is a special adviser to Health Poverty Action. He visited us recently and here you can watch him talk about the origins of the People’s Health Movement: