© 2005 Politics of Health Group
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About Politics of Health Group
Our health is critically influenced by the political and social situations in which we live and the exercise of power. Health inequalities are growing within and between communities, regions, countries and continents. Access to high quality health and social care is also distributed unfairly. At a time that has seen steady progress in the development of knowledge about how to promote health and the further development of technologies to tackle many diseases, we have also seen a growth in avoidable ill health and health inequality.
PoHG's Charter sets out in full sixteen principles that should guide political action and policy development for health.
PoHG had a previous incarnation during the 1970s and 80s with similar principles. Then, as now, PoHG was driven by the belief that power exercised through politics and its impact on public policy is of fundamental importance for health. With the growth of movements holding similar values, such as the Health for All movement and the Public Health Alliance the original PoHG folded. As these movements in turn declined it became clear that there did not exist a body that was primarily concerned with how power and politics affect health and inequalities in health, and so PoHG was revived in 2002.
PoHG’s focus is UK wide but we also have an international perspective that recognises the influence of European and global issues on public health and health inequalities in the UK. In the light of political developments in Scotland, it is possible that there will be a divergence north of the border in terms of PoHG activity. There is a small group of active PoHG members in Scotland as well as in England, but PoHG has no significant presence in Wales or Northern Ireland.
We have no constitution but do have a set of guidelines for managing PoHG (see Guidelines below). PoHG consists of a loose network of supporters and contributors to email discussions via the universities’ JISCMAIL system. PoHG is run by a steering group of ten PoHG supporters who volunteer their time. From time to time we seek new steering group members via the email list. There are no paid workers. The steering group ‘meets’ via telephone conferences with occasional face to face meetings. We have two co-chairs, a Treasurer and a general administrator.
We have no financial resources to speak of. We do not ask for a membership subscription but we occasionally appeal for donations from subscribers to the email list. Financial support for core functions such as hosting the website and telephone conferences currently comes from some of the steering group members. Face to face meetings have sometimes been supported financially or in kind by academic institutions or local authorities. We had a concerted effort to gain significant funding some years ago, resulting in some support for UK Health Watch 2005. We are preparing applications for funding our proposed projects (see Current Commitments below), but for core funding we have to rely on our supporters. Our successes have been the result of the efforts and goodwill of the steering group and a few other supporters and collaborating organisations. Another potentially useful resource is an extensive network of contacts, including some influential politicians.
Since its revival in 2002, despite our very limited resources, PoHG has made some significant progress (see Milestones below) including several publications, an active and lively email discussion group, web site, Facebook page, open meetings in London, Liverpool and elsewhere, workshops at conferences, joint initiatives with likeminded groups and more.
Several attempts at strategic planning have had mixed success and we have so far failed to make a breakthrough to build a vibrant mass movement that encompasses academic, professional, and community sectors. We are refocusing our efforts to collaborate with likeminded organisations in order to reach a wider audience.
We have recently agreed to work with the People’s Health Movement on their Call to Action, and to work with them and the Just Fair Consortium to build momentum around health inequalities campaigning. We are currently preparing good practice briefings incorporating a politics of health approach for people working in local government, the NHS, academia and the civil service. We have started planning for a major event in 2016 to mark the 30th anniversary of the publication of the Ottawa Charter.
Guidelines for Managing the Group
The Politics of Health Group consists of people from various walks of life who are concerned about the impact of power on health. Amongst our members are people who work in health and health related settings, in local government and in voluntary organisations, academics, community activists, retired people – anyone who shares our values is welcome to join us.
Mechanisms and rules by which PoHG operates
PoHG has no formal constitution. The following are the guidelines by which we operate.
Members of the Steering Group in December 2014
Alex Scott-Samuel, Sue Laughlin, Kat Smith, Lucia D'Ambruoso, Katie Powell, Lee Adams, Maggie Winters, Thara Raj, Ruth Barnes
Speaking Out on the Health Impact of Politics