Vision & Principles


Health is a social, economic and political issue and above all a fundamental human right. Inequality, poverty, exploitation, violence and injustice are at the root of illhealth and the deaths of poor and marginalised people. Health for all means that powerful interests have to be challenged, that globalisation has to be opposed, and that political and economic priorities have to be drastically changed. This Charter builds on perspectives of people whose voices have rarely been heard before, if at all. It encourages people to develop their own solutions and to hold accountable local authorities, national governments, international organisations and corporations.


Equity, ecologically sustainable development and peace are at the heart of our vision of a better world a world in which a healthy life for all is a reality; a world that respects, appreciates and celebrates all life and diversity; a world that enables the lowering of people’s talents and abilities to enrich each other; a world in which people’s voices guide the decisions that shape our lives.  There are more than enough resources to achieve this vision.



““Illness and death everyday anger us.Not because there are people who get sick or because there are people who die.  We are angry because many illnesses and deaths have their roots in the economic and social policies that are imposed on us”” (A voice from Central America)

In recent decades, economic changes worldwide have profoundly affected people’’s health and their access to health care and other social services.

Despite unprecedented levels of wealth in the world, poverty and hunger are increasing. The gap between rich and poor nations has widened, as have inequalities within countries, between social classes, between men and women and between young and old.

A large proportion of the world’’s population still lacks access to food, education, safe drinking water, sanitation, shelter, land and its resources, employment and health care services. Discrimination continues to prevail. It affects both the occurrence of disease and access to health care.

The planet’’s natural resources are being depleted at an alarming rate. The resulting degradation of the environment threatens everyone’’s health, especially the health of the poor. There has been an upsurge of new conflicts while weapons of mass destruction still pose a grave threat.

The world’’s resources are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few who strive to maximise their private profit. Neoliberal political and economic policies are made by a small group of powerful governments, and by international institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation. These policies, together with the unregulated activities of transnational corporations, have had severe effects on the lives and livelihoods, health and wellbeing of people in both North and South.

Public services are not fulfilling people’s needs, not least because they have deteriorated as a result of cuts in governments’’ social budgets. Health services have become less accessible, more unevenly distributed and more inappropriate.

Privatisation threatens to undermine access to health care still further and to compromise the essential principle of equity. The persistence of preventable ill health, the resurgence of diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, and the emergence and spread of new diseases such as HIV/AIDS are a stark reminder of our world’s lack of commitment to principles of equity and justice.


The attainment of the highest possible level of health and wellbeing is a fundamental human right, regardless of a person’s colour, ethnic background, religion, gender, age, abilities, sexual orientation or class.

The principles of universal, comprehensive Primary Health Care (PHC), envisioned in the 1978 Alma Ata Declaration, should be the basis for formulating policies related to health. Now more than ever an equitable, participatory and intersectoral approach to health and health care is needed.

Governments have a fundamental responsibility to ensure universal access to quality health care, education and other social services according to people’’s needs, not according to their ability to pay.

The participation of people and people’s organisations is essential to the formulation, implementation and evaluation of all health and social policies and programmes.

Health is primarily determined by the political, economic, social and physical environment and should, along with equity and sustainable development, be a top priority in local, national and international policymaking.


To combat the global health crisis, we need to take action at all levels individual, community, national, regional and global and in all sectors. The demands presented below provide a basis for action.


Health is a reflection of a society’’s commitment to
equity and justice. Health and human rights should prevail over economic and political concerns.

This Charter calls on people of the worldto:

Support all attempts to implement the right to health.

Demand that governments and international organisations reformulate, implement and enforce policies and practices which respect the right to health.

Build broadbased popular movements to pressure governments to incorporate health and human rights into national constitutions and legislation.

Fight the exploitation of people’’s health needs for purposes of profit.