The People’s Health Movement (PHM) is a global network bringing together grassroots health activists, civil society organizations and academic institutions from around the world, particularly from low and middle income countries (LMICs). We currently have a presence in approximately 70 countries.
The People’s Charter for Health (PCH) is our founding document and the framework within which PHM acts. It is both a tool for advocacy and a framework for action. By endorsing the Charter one becomes part of PHM. The PCH endorses the Alma Ata declaration, and affirms health as a social, economic and political issue but above all, a fundamental human right. The Alma Ata Declaration was adopted by 134 nations in 1978. It enshrined health as a fundamental human right, and called for “Health for All by the Year 2000” through Primary Health Care. This gives PHC a broad, transformative, developmental role beyond the capabilities of the health sector alone. Intersectoral collaboration and meaningful community participation are among its fundamental principles. It is also known as “Comprehensive PHC” to distinguish it from “Selective PHC”, which refers to selected, targeted health care interventions by the health sector.
This global network of health activists has the following objectives:
- To promote Health for All through an equitable, participatory and inter-sectoral movement and as a Rights Issue.
- To advocate for government and other health agencies to ensure universal access to quality health care, education and social services according to people’s needs and not their ability to pay.
- To promote the participation of people and people’s organisations in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of all health and social policies and programmes.
- To promote health along with equity and sustainable development as top priorities in local, national and international policymaking.
- To encourage people to develop their own solutions to local health problems.
- To hold local authorities, national governments, international organisations and corporations accountable
The People’s Health Movement (SA) (PHM-SA) is the South African Chapter of the People’s Health Movement (PHM), a global network of grassroots activists, civil society and academics, predominantly from low and middle income countries. PHM-SA was started in 2003 by a small group of health activists, and launched in 2007 with its Right to Health Campaign.
PHM’s understanding of “Health” corresponds to the World Health Organisation’s definition of health as a state of complete mental, physical and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease. Therefore, PHM-SA does not limit its work to advocating for improved healthcare services for all. It also works with communities and civil society organisations to improve the social determinants of health (SDH), i.e. “the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. These forces and systems include economic policies and systems, development agendas, social norms, social policies and political systems.”
South Africa has become the most unequal society in the world, as measured by the Gini coefficient. Despite our progressive Constitution, the rights of the majority of our people – to dignity, life, freedom and security, privacy, health – are violated on a daily basis by the conditions in which they live. Currently, and for the foreseeable future, the majority of people in South Africa’s informal settlements, sprawling townships, rural areas and on farms, live in unhealthy, even life threatening, conditions. All people, especially growing, developing children, require adequate nutrition, access to adequate and safe drinking water, sanitation services and comprehensive primary health care.
The mission of PHM-SA is to improve the capacity of individuals and communities to realise their right to health and health care, and to advocate for a Primary Health Care approach, as defined in the Declaration of Alma Ata. PHM uses the term PHC in its broad, developmental sense, affirming health as a social, economic and political issue and, above all, as a fundamental human right. Fulfilment of this right requires not only universal access to excellent, equitable health services, but also concerted intersectoral state action to address the SDH. These are universally recognised socio-economic rights essential for health, embodied in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) as well as the South African Bill of Rights.
Theory of Change
PHM believes that entrenching human rights within domestic legislation (as in South Africa) is crucial but insufficient for the fulfilment of the right to health without meaningful community mobilisation and participation in all public matters relevant to health.
Fundamentally, real and lasting change of the kind we envisage comes from below. This entails painstaking building. capacitating and empowering of civil society organisations that are rooted in communities and assisting them to undertake critical analysis, think creatively, and act constructively and coherently to address power imbalances and other key issues relevant to health.
PHM-SA is engaged in building a broad-based popular movement for equitable resource allocation in the pursuit of universal health coverage in South Africa. At a grassroots level, PHM-SA engages in community education and mobilization to enable communities to participate meaningfully in the development and implementation of health policies. This involves critical analysis to identify key vested interests in the status quo, their means of protecting and promoting their interests, and devising creative ways of countering these.
PHM-SA has a Steering Committee which consists of volunteers only that are responsible for:
- Deciding the thematic work the organisation undertakes each year.
- Coordinating, planning and executing all the activities of the organisation together with employed staff.
- Ensuring that the organisation is governed in accordance with its constitution.
- Raising funds for PHM-SA.
The 2019 PHM-SA Steering Committee members are:
- Michelle Mzamo (Chair)
- Sinesipho Jojo (Deputy Chair)
- Melanie Alperstein (Secretary)
- Yonela Kentane (Deputy Secretary)
- James van Duuren (Deputy Secretary)
- Peter Benjamin (Treasurer)
- Leslie London
- Isaac Mangwana
- Nozibele Mdayi
- Elroy Paulus
- Louis Reynolds
- David Sanders
- Cleo Sawuti
- Kathryn Stinson
- Sindiswa Zibaya
- Michelle du Toit
- Nontutuzelo Hlafa
- Sivuyile Timakwe
- Catherine Mokotla
- Naadira Munshi
- Shehnaz Munshi
Tinashe Njanji is currently Coordinator-field worker of the People’s Health Movement South Africa. His main responsibilities are the day-to-day running of the PHM-SA office, internal and external communications, mobilising communities and networking with other health CSOs in South Africa. As adult educator, another part of his current work includes the organisation of the South African People’s Health University (SAPHU) where he is responsible for the logistics, recruiting of community members and is one of the faculty. He joined PHM-SA in 2008 after a journey of health activism working with grassroots communities in different parts of the country, for example, he was one of the founding activists of the Social Justice Coalition, and in 2010 he was among the founding activists that formed the Right2Know Campaign.
Anneleen De Keukelaere has a background in social development, psychology and anthropology. Currently she is working as Associate Coordinator for the People’s Health Movement South Africa where she is responsible for the financial management including donor reporting, budget development, annual reporting, accounting and maintaining donor relations. She also assists in the project management for the two main programmes of PHM: South African People’s Health University (SAPHU) and the National Health Assembly (NHA).
In addition to above engagement with the People’s Health Movement South Africa, she is also active at PHM Global where she is part of the global secretariat of the People’s Health Movement in Cape Town and responsible for external communications and the Health for All Campaign. Before her activity at PHM, she gained experience working in Africa and Asia for several NGOs and Social Movements such as Caraes vzw, EFD (Education for Development), FOS, ILIRG (International Labour and Research Group) and COFTA (Cooperation for Fair Trade in Africa).
Estian Smit is part-time Communications and Technology Mobilisation Coordinator at the People’s Health Movement South Africa. Having joined PHM-SA in 2017, they are responsible for managing Bavuse! – our new health advocacy and mobilisation technology that uses cell phones for organising, mobilising and campaigning. Their responsibilities also include training members in using Bavuse!, maintaining PHM-SA databases, disseminating PHM-SA positions through social media and mailing lists, writing and editing PHM-SA materials, and maintaining the PHM-SA website. Over the years, Estian has been involved in various environmental, social justice and transgender rights movements. Their work experience includes technical writing, advocacy, research and consultancy in the e-learning, human rights and academic sectors. They hold a Master’s degree in Philosophy from Stellenbosch University and has also pursued postgraduate studies on transgender and intersex rights at the University of the Western Cape.
PHM-SA has an informal membership base that consists of activists who subscribe to the People’s Charter for Health and who support and participate in the work of the organisation.
To receive news about our campaigns, activities and events, join the PHM-SA Bavuse! group: Dial *134*1994*7147# (it’s free).
PHM-SA is a NPO (registration number 072-062-NPO) based in Cape Town, with active circles in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, and members in Limpopo and the Northern Cape.