UKZN’s Public Health Discipline Launches Public Health Interest Group
UKZN’s Public Health Discipline recently launched a KwaZulu-Natal’s Public Health Interest Group. This was inspired by a talk given by Professor Leslie London, recently at Howard College, a member of the People’s Health Movement (PHM-South Africa), on the history of civil society action in health in South Africa.
PHM is a global network bringing together grassroots health activists, civil society organisations and academic institutions from around the world, particularly from low- and middle-income countries advocating for a right to health. It has a presence in around 70 countries.
‘Guided by the People’s Charter for Health, PHM works on various programmes and activities,’ London said, and is committed to Comprehensive Primary Health Care and the addressing of the Social, Environmental and Economic Determinants of Health.
London’s talk was intended to make people understand the strength and weakness of civil society mobilisation. ‘Understanding the civil society mobilisation will help build activism going forward and strengthen the system,’ he said. PHM is planning to hold a National Health Assembly in mid-2016 to consolidate a civil society agenda for health. It will host provincial assemblies in the lead-up to the National Conference.
According to London, civil society after 1994 left everything to government. The public effectively demobilised. ‘We forgot that the best way to hold government accountable is through community voice. We should use human rights provision in our constitution to do that,’ added London.
Other PHM objectives include: to promote participation of people and people's organisations in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of all health and social policies and programmes, to encourage people to develop their own solutions to local health problems and to hold local authorities, national governments, international organisations and corporations accountable.