Political will for better health, a bottom‐up process
Lately, different voices in the global public health community have drawn attention to the interaction between the State and civil society in the context of reducing health inequities. A rights‐based approach empowers people not only to claim their rights but also to demand accountability from the State. Lessons from history show that economic growth does not automatically have positive implications for population health. It may even be disruptive in the absence of strong stewardship and regulation by national and local public health authorities. The field research in which we have been involved over the past 20 years in the Philippines, Palestine, Cuba, and Europe confirms that organized communities and people’s organizations can effectively pressure the state into action towards realizing the right to health. Class analysis, influencing power relations, and giving the State a central role have been identified as three key strategies of relevant social movements and NGOs. More interaction between academia and civil society organizations could contribute to enhance and safeguard the societal relevance of public health researches. Our own experience made us discover that social movements and public health researchers have a lot to learn from one another.
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