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Health Through Peace

12 Oct 2017

From 4 to 6 September, Medact and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) brought together health professionals and peace activists to debate, educate and advocate for social justice and demilitarisation. Across a series of expert-led panels, workshops and academic sessions, discussions took place on ways to achieve health through peace – exploring topics from war and nuclear weapons, to the refugee crisis and climate change.

PHM was represented at the conference by Wim De Ceuckelaire whose plenary speech was inspirational and represented a very real call to arms for all those involved in improving health globally.

Participants were introduced to the power of collective action and its possibilities but sounded a warning note – so often, we fail to recognise the causes of a sick society. In a video designed by a PHM affiliated organisation, M3M Third World Health Aid, we see that an individual approach to ‘rescuing’ at risk children utterly neglects the social, environmental and economic root causes which determine the health of nations. 

Despite this, success stories were described where those in lower and middle-income countries have united to protect health infrastructure.  The example of an organised and persistent campaign in the Philippines, driven by different community groups determined to prevent hospital closures was outlined. Despite facing years of challenges, the movement was able to safe guard their hospitals to ensure the ongoing delivery of health care for those most in need. 

The presentation was clear and the vital document ‘Building A Movement For Health’ outlines this further - we need a greater reinforcement of the People’s Health Movement. We must target determinants of health directly and this should be driven by those at the grass roots. Together we can achieve success, despite the increasingly pervasive influence in health of global powers and corporations. Together we must understand the real causes of the frustration and rage we experience as health professionals when faced with sick populations, and ACT. 


Lindsey Kent
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