Abstract – The catalytic synergy of health and human rights: The People’s Health Movement and the Right to Health and Health Care Campaign

Laura Turiano and Lanny Smith

Health and Human Rights 10/1

Published June 2008

The move from many to everyone is a small semantic shift, but one with extraordinarily radical consequences.
– Hardt and Negri, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire1


The People’s Health Movement (PHM) is a global network at the intersection of many health and human rights organizations that has articulated and attempted to put into practice a human rights-based approach to improving health, organizing particularly in the area of economic, social, and cultural rights. PHM’s approach to human rights and its Right to Health and Health Care Campaign (RTHHCC), the focus of this article, are responses influenced by several concerns: the failure to implement the primary health care strategy defined in the Alma Ata declaration, the discipline of social medicine, and the application of human rights methods to local health problems and to organizational practice. Through PHM, a global network of activists is renewing the concept of citizenship and creating new forms of direct democratic social organization.