Update on the PEOPLE’S HEALTH ASSEMBLY (PHA2000)
The People’s Health Assembly is a new international, multi-sectorial movement whose purpose is to give a “voice to the people” in decisions that affect their well-being. The main event of the PHA will take place December 4-8 2000 near Dhaka, Bangladesh, with as many as 600participants from 100 or more countries.
Preparatory Activities. Fully as important as the big event in December, 2000, will be the preparatory activities and follow-up, which will provide the ongoing energy and continuity to work for the changes to be advocated in a People’s Health Charter, which will be endorsed at the main event. The need for “democratization of global decisions” is critical as we move into the new century. The health and viability of the planet and its people are endangered as never before. Global policies affecting our present and future well-being are currently made by a small number of powerful, wealthy persons with links to multinational corporations, international financial institutions, and the helmsmen of world trade. This handful of powerful persons and the institutions they represent has imposed on the globe a model of socioeconomic “development” designed to make the rich richer at enormous human and environmental costs. The trade policies they have imposed have undermined the sovereignty of nations, and their massive lobby to sway public elections has weakened democratic processes. The resultant growing gap between rich and poor both within and between countries, has led to deepening poverty, falling real wages, unemployment, and a global epidemic of crime, violence and despair. While part of humanity leads lives of over-consumption that damage their health and endanger the planet’s ecosystems, millions suffer from deprivation and hunger. This lop-sided global socioeconomic system is as unsustainable as it is inequitable. With its ideology of “growth at all costs,” it is a global cancer that, if not stopped, will lead to destruction of the social fabric and irreversible environmental demise.
The purpose of the PHA2000 is to bring together all sectors and movements that are related to health or whose activities contribute to sustainable well-being. Health in its fullest sense consists of physical, mental, social, economic, environmental, and spiritual well-being. Today the forces that control the globalized economy are so powerful and connected that popular struggles for more equitable and sustainable approaches have a hard time making any gains. Even at the national or international level, efforts to bring about significant lasting change within a given sector—be it health, agriculture, education, environment, human rights, disarmament, gender or ethnic equality, or whatever—often come up against overwhelming barriers. In many sectors, progress made in previous decades is being systematically rolled back.
The goal of the People’s Health Assembly, therefore, is to achieve strength through numbers. By forming a world-wide, intersectorial movement of a broad spectrum of caring people and groups—from local to international, and from all classes, castes, creeds, ages, genders, orientations, ethnic origins, nations, and walks of life—we hope that we can make our collective voice heard where it matters. We hope that such a collective “voice of the people,” or “globalization from the bottom up” by advocating for the common good at local, national, and international levels, can begin to turn around the selfish, unfair, and unsustainable paradigm of globalization from the top-down.
In essence, it is hoped that the People’s Health Assembly will be the front edge of a global democratic movement for change. We hope that it will help to make global policy-making more democratic, and will place a strong demand on global policy-makers to respond more humanely and accountably to the horrendous unmet human and environmental needs endangering present collective health and future survival.
Analysis of the current situation and prospects for action. An important part of the preparatory process will involve an analysis of current global and local problems affecting people’s well-being. It will also include a review of actions and alternatives that have been taken or proposed to cope with or resolve the major problems. It will consider strategies for actions that can be taken at different levels: individual, family, community, national and global.
WAYS TO PARTICIPATE IN PREPARATIONS FOR PHA2000
During the year preceding the PHA2000 event in December 1999, concerned persons and groups from all of the above sectors and movements in different parts of the world are invited to organized preliminary meetings and activities to explore the content and direction of the PHA and to make proposals for inclusion in the People’s Health Charter. A set of guidelines for preparatory meetings and activities is available upon request. If you want to learn more about PHA2000, or if you are interested in participating in some way with the PHA2000, or possibly helping to organize some of the local or national preparatory activities, we suggest you write to:
PHA Secretariat Consumers International Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
250-A Jalan Air Itam 10460 Penang, Malaysia
Tel: 604-229 1396
Fax: 604 228 6506
Check our website: www.pha2000.org