Prem Chandran John and David G. Legge INTRODUCTION Avoidable Disease Burden The avoidable disease burden of developing countries is huge. Half a million young women die in childbirth each year, almost all in resource-poor settings and with almost all the deaths completely preventable (WHO 2007). This is a global challenge for all: experts, governments, corporations and civil society; but it demands action to address inequality and injustice, including the greed, insecurity and power relations which perpetuate an unbalanced allocation of resources. It is not just about mobilizing a few extra dollars of charity; it is about developing a system which provides fairer access to resources as a matter of right. The Social Movement/Health Activist Perspective Our focus is on the role of civil society in the struggle for health. The People’s Health Movement (PHM) brings together individuals and organizations (mainly in the developing world) that share a concern about the avoidable disease burden, who criticize inequities in health care, and who demand structural reform to underpin the right to health. The people’s health movement (as a broad social movement) reflects the concern and action of ordinary people and groups (health activists). It both provides the vehicle for and is constituted by the claims and actions of those who gather, speak and act. PHM (the global organization and network of organizations) provides channels and opportunities for communication across the wider social movement and a platform for coordinated action. Integral to the PHM perspective is the Alma-Ata vision of primary health care...
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