Saturday, July 05, 2008

Understanding Health For All

There seems to be so much confusion regarding terminology within People's Health Movement. We hear talk of 'upper-case People's Health Movement' and 'lower-case people's health movement'. 'Health For All' seems to be the buzz word used by everybody today, from private insurance companies and corporate hospitals to Right to Health lobbyists and community health workers.

Here is Dr. Halfdan Mahler, the grand old man of the Health For All movement breaking it down in the simplest of terms. According to him the concept of Health For All is a value system/ spiritual belief. It requires a leap of faith. You have to believe that everyone is entitled to try and live in perfect health. You have to believe that any attempt to take away this freedom is wrong. Then you act.

Taking it from there, People's Health Movement is then the largest network of Health For All believers. It is the most visible face of such a belief. Using new technologies such as the internet and cheap air travel it unites individuals, organisations and networks to work towards Health For All at all levels. Its core manifesto is the People's Charter for Health, an action plan to achieve the world it believes in.

So People Health Movement is not a movement after all. It is the biggest network within the Health For All movement. If it was called the Network Of People Believing In Health For All And Then Deciding To Do Something About It then half the confusion would be cleared away. But there is no denying that PHM rolls of the tongue more easily than NOPBIHFAATDTOSAI.

If you dont believe that everybody, I mean everybody, has the right to try and live a life in perfect health then you cant use 'Health For All' in its profound, genuine sense. In the world we live in everyone suffers from some curtailment of this freedom. The poor, the sick suffer more. However such curtailment can never be morally right. While forcing people to live in unhealthy environments, preventing their access to the best possible medical care, allowing them to be subject to humiliation and hate may sometimes be temporarily unavoidable it can never be morally condoned.

An individual or institution who then uses the 'Health For All' term to promote itself but condones even the temporary infringement on people's Right to Health is then merely 'HFA washing' or 'hfasing'. Similar to pink washing, the phenomenon of corporate houses using breast cancer awareness and charity as an excuse to market their products. See Think Before You Pink for more.

To sum it up. The idealistic concept of Health For All finds practical expression in the lives of thousands of individuals and institutions who constitute the Health For All movement. The largest network of such believers is the People's Health Movement. However there seems to be others who use the 'Health For All' term carelessly and sometimes for selfish purposes.

Friday, July 04, 2008