This year we celebrated World Health Dayby saying #ReclaimYourHealth!
Every year on World Health Day people and communities from all over the world gather together to call for urgent progress towards Universal Health Coverage (read Alternative Astana Declaration).
All around the world there have been actions and campaigns (see 7thApril interactive Map), especially against the commercialisation of health and the privatization of the national health systems.
In the UK, we are witnessing the universal principles on which the NHS was founded constantly undermined by the privatisation and dismantling of our public health system and through the racist policies of the Hostile Environment. Increasingly people are being denied access to the services they need or being forced to pay for care they cannot afford.
PHM believes that all people have a human right to health.
Therefore, this year PHM-UK used World Health Day to bring people together in Tower Hamlets (East London, in front of the Royal Hospital) for a day of creative action to Reclaim Our Health. The day aimed to be a space for participatory action and community engagement. The key questions that we explored together:
- What Health Means to You?
- What are the Barriers You Face to Achieving Good Health and Wellbeing?
- If You Could Demand the Government to Do One thing for Your Health, What Would it Be?
People’s opinions. We had some interesting conversations with the Tower Hamlet’s community, which will be the starting point for our manifesto. For instance, when we asked passers-by what they think about the Tower Hamlet healthcare services, some of them mentioned the long waiting times, the cuts, the substandard quality of some services, the need for more A&E, the high social inequality that lead to health inequalities, more sport facilities are required, among other opinions.
“I recognise that the situation is worse in Tower Hamlet compared to other part of London..those that I know that can afford to go private or leave the country for Health care do so..”. A Tower Hamlet community member.
“Long waiting times are a big concern. This is a government policy and the cuts to the NHS that meant the situation is like this. I would be more than willing to pay more taxes for a better NHS”. A Tower Hamlet community member.
Your Health Day 2019 sought to be the start of a participatory process to create a People’s Health Manifesto, a collaborative document that would be used to shape not only PHM UK’s work but also the future of health policy in the UK. We believe it is up to community organisations, health networks and progressives from all range of backgrounds to coalesce together in a spirit of solidarity and commitment to strive for this. Civil society can play a key role in shaping national and international health policies-that’s why we are Building a movement for health. We organised this event in collaboration with key public health advocacy organizations (and good friends!) such as Medact (Docs Not Cops/#PatientsNotPassport) andHealth Poverty Action. We are extremely grateful and supportive of the fabulous work that they are doing-together we are stronger!
The event’s objective was to create a space of discussion to reflect on what health means for us, taking into account all the sectors and policies and have an impact on it. Especially, we constantly strive in our work to protect health from commercial interest, make sure that financial, geographical, temporal and cultural accessibility are guaranteed, boost health democracy by, for instance, involving civil society to have a voice in the political agenda, addressing the root determinants of health.
Lessons learned. Overall, we were pleased with the outcome of the event. It was a sort of experiment on exploring a different way to engage with the community through a participatory action.
We also reached a good social media coverage which helped to disseminate our work.
Some lessons have been learned and good suggestions were gathered on what can be done differently and better next time. Looking forward for the next event!