The Second People’s Health Assembly

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From 17 to 23 July in Cuenca, Ecuador, over 1,300 participants from 80 countries in the five continents met under the slogan of “The voices of the Earth are calling” to analyze global health problems and to draw up health promotion strategies for all. The final declaration at the end of the event identifies neo-liberal policies transferring wealth from the South to the North, from the poor to the rich and from the public sector to the private sector, as the main cause of the worsening of the health conditions of the majority of the world population. Privatization of public assets and “free trade” the brand of neo-liberalism, rely on the World Trade Organization (WTO) and International Financial Institutions to control factors affecting health. In a world where racism, oppression of women, social exclusion, generation of poverty, wars, individualism and increasingly intense and accelerated destruction of the environment prevail, there cannot be health.

The links of health with those other factors led to various poles of discussion being established at the event, inter alia such as: health and the environment, inter-culturality and health, equity and the health of the population, trade and health, health in the hands of the people. Within the issue of health and environment, the World Rainforest Movement (WRM), addressed the link of health with climate change and deforestation.

The Second People’s Health Assembly appealed to the peoples of the world to mobilize themselves and face the assault on the right to health and to defend it through a wide-ranging mass mobilization, linking it with struggles for the right to water, defence of the environment, food sovereignty, gender equality, the right to a decent job and housing and universal education. Through these struggles of resistance, a vision of a socially and economically more just world is proposed, where peace and respect prevail in an intercultural context, incorporating diverse knowledge, where people celebrate life, nature and diversity.

The WRM supports this appeal, which follows the lines that led it to work in the World Social Forum for the integration of social movements that are already building other possible worlds, from themselves and their sovereignty, linking with others.

In our defence of forests, in our resistance to public policies that impact on them (and on us), we support those popular processes that are taking back issues into their own hands, such as community forest management within the Mumbai Forest Initiative (see WRM bulletin No. 78); climate change within the Durban Group (see WRM bulletin No. 89), and health within the People’s Health Assembly.

By Raquel Núñez, WRM, e-mail: