The Harvard Center for Health and Human Rights is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Alma-Ata Declaration with its ALMA-ATA at 40 blog series.
As contributors, HAI’s Julia Robinson and Leigh Haynes (Vrije University in Brussels) co-authored a reflection on the role of civil society in establishing and maintaining accountability in pursuit of the “Health for All” objective of the 1978 Alma-Ata Declaration.
In considering the impact that global political and economic forces have played in diverting progress toward the goals of Alma-Ata, Robinson and Haynes highlight three ways in which civil society has actively worked to keep key international and national stakeholder eyes on the prize:
- As an advocate and watchdog, ensuring that governments and international organizations work with communities and in the interest of communities, as opposed to serving private economic interests;
- Filling service gaps created during health workforce shortages or in the wake of human rights crises;
- Creating health care provider networks for professional development and education
Ultimately, Robinson and Haynes celebrate the informal role civil society has played thus far, while advocating for a more intentional and formalized role for such groups moving forward.
“Despite policies and programming that prove detrimental to the right to health, civil society remains steadfast in its commitment to the principles of the Alma-Ata Declaration to achieve health for all. And during times of increasing economic inequality, social exclusion, environmental degradation, war, divisive politics, and other circumstances that harm people’s health, its actions are crucial.”