Continuation of document
Coalition Building: international, multi-sectoral,
and across classes
The overall level of health in a community or
nation or in the world as a whole is a good indicator of its
degree of equity and social justice. For this reason, health
can be a good entry point in the struggle for fairer, more
I would like to emphasize again that one of
the key elements in creating a healthier world comes down
to the healing of old wounds and the building of bridges.
The Achilles heel of the Left and of progressive social movements
in general has been infighting and division within the ranks.
The social vision of the Left, in a nut-shell, is to construct
a society based on equal opportunities and human dignity for
all. If we are to revive that vision, we must learn to respect
our differences and embrace what we have in common.
To successfully confront and transform the elitist
global order, it is essential to reach across national boundaries
to build international coalitions. Equally essential is to
build cross-sectoral solidarity. To this end, one of the strategic
goals of the People's Health Assembly has been to bring together
activists and progressives, not just from the health sector,
but from all the various sectors that affect health that is,
from virtually every sector.
This PHA event in Bangladesh is a big step forward
toward building multi-sectoral solidarity. But we still have
a long way to go. In the follow-up activities of the PHA,
it is essential for us to build a pragmatic coalition among
progressives in the three key sectors of Health, Environment,
and Economics. New, more balanced and sustainable alternatives
that bridge these three sectors are essential to achieving
a healthy way forward.
Also important to coalition building is reaching
across class barriers, at least where this is possible without
sacrificing integrity. We need to include concerned persons
and groups from every level of the social spectrum. True,
the "voiceless poor" must have a much stronger say in the
decisions and policies that affect their lives. But it is
also important to reach out to those in the middle and upper
classes who are becoming increasingly worried about the unconscionable
inequities of the dominant social order.
Some of the world's wealthiest financial wizards
and top economists -- ranging from billionaire George Soros
to Herman Daly, Davison Budhoo and Joseph Stiglitz, all former
high-ranking economists of the World Bank or IMF -- have begun
to question the prevailing economic ideology based on "growth
at all costs." They, too, are looking for fairer, more sustainable
In spite of the roll-back of social progress
and the claim that, with the globalization of corporate rule,
"history has come to an end," we may in fact be on the doorstep
of a new age of enlightenment. Little by little, more and
more people are beginning to realize that all life is interconnected.
The health of each of us depends upon the health of all of
us and upon the health of the planet that we are guests upon.