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Assembly meets to tackle health needs of the poor

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 14 July 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:128
  1. Tessa Richards
  1. London

    More than a thousand members of the People's Health Movement from about 90 mostly poor countries will meet at the People's Health Assembly in Cuenca, Ecuador, next week. The movement ( is a global advocacy network of people's organisations, civil society groups, non-governmental organisations, women's groups, social activists, academics, health professionals, and policy makers. This will be the second time that they have come together in a meeting, aimed at giving a voice to the poor.

    The first People's Health Assembly, was held in Savar in Bangladesh in 2000, and attracted almost 1500 health activists. It was convened by Zafrullah Chowdhury and his colleagues to discuss the failure to achieve the goal of health for all by the year 2000 (BMJ 2004;329:1127). This was the ambitious target that health ministers from 134 countries signed up to at the Alma-Ata conference in Kazakhstan in 1978.

    Poverty, widening economic inequality, globalisation, unfair trade, and poor health governance were held to blame. Governments and the United Nations' agencies concerned with health were charged with failing to enact the principles set out in the Alma-Ata declaration, which called for the development of comprehensive equitable primary health care services (BMJ 2000;321:1361-2).

    During that meeting, the People's Health Movement came together, and a call to arms was drawn up and endorsed in the form of the People's Charter for Health ( The charter, …

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