Health as a Social Movement

The ethos in the work of the SOCHARA was to be catalysts for community health among different sectors. Thus it included building links with NGOs, institutions, and national organizations and associations in the voluntary sector and various networks in civil society in the country.  Through collective action and solidarity work we hoped to strengthen the critical mass of organizations and individuals keenly interested to improve the health status of people in India, with a focus on the social majority, the poor. The focus was to shift from an individual oriented curative and preventive health approach to a broader approach and resulted in the articulation of a Social Paradigm in Health.

An internal cum external evaluation after the seven year experimental phase recommended the continuation of this work through a process of institutionalization. The Society for Community Health Awareness, Research and Action (SOCHARA) was thus registered in 1990. Another reflection evaluation in 1998 committed CHC-SOCHARA to building a broader alliance for health with a social justice perspective across sectors, and to developing teaching programs with innovative methods so that a larger number of young professionals and activists from multi-disciplinary backgrounds could be oriented and supported to work in community health and public health. (see

Over the years this has led us to deeper involvement in building health for all as a social movement.

  • The idea was first described in the chapter we submitted to the Independent Commission of Health in India of VHAI.
  • For too long the medical profession and the medical education sector have been directed by professional control and debate. It is time to recognize the role of the community, the consumer, the patient and the people in the whole debate. …… What is needed is a strong countervailing movement initiated by health and development activists, consumer and people’s organizations that will bring health care and medical education and their right orientation high on the political agenda of the country. All those concerned about ‘peoples needs’ and ‘people’s health’ will have to take on these emerging challenges as we approach the end of the millennium”. 
  • To build this countervailing movement described above we were involved with the following initiatives, all of which taken together represent our efforts to build and support health as a social movement
  • International Poverty and Health Network
    • Evolved Network around a series of WHO meetings before the end of the millennium (Equity, poverty and Health, Sustainability)
    • IPHN network meeting, Kenya, 1998
    • South Asian Dialogue on Poverty and Health Bengaluru Nov 1999
  • Peoples Health Movement Initiatives since 2000
    • Jan Swasthya Sabha mobilization (Jan –Dec 2000)
    • Indian Peoples Health Charter 
    • Peoples Health Assembly (PHA) Savar, Bangladesh Dec 2000
    • The Global People’s Charter for Health
    • Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) – National Co-ordination Committee
    • Global Peoples Health Movement. Steering committee
    • Asian Social Forum, Hyderabad, 2003
    • World Social Forum, Mumbai and Mumbai Declaration on Health
    • International peoples Health University
    • Global Health Watch  

Peoples Health Movement at Country Level

MNI-TamilnaduSri LankaDAWN