People’s Health Movement

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People’s Health Movement

By the Editorial Collective

‘Science for the People’ Vol. 4, No. 1, January 1972, p. 23

The following is a description of the activities of the People’s Health Movement (PHM). Interested people should contact People’s Health Movement, 3141 Bishop Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45219

The People’s Health Movement (PHM) is an organization of welfare recipients, industrial workers, professionals, health workers and students. It has a membership of 300 people. It was started in February, 1971 when residents from many of Cincinnati’s communities came together and expressed grave concern over the faltering health care delivery system in Cincinnati. Out of the meeting came a list of demands such as:

  1. Family-oriented, community-controlled, comprehensive seven days a week, 24 hour a day health centers with backup services to all hospitals and supportive services from the Cincinnati Health Department.
  2. Regular and emergency transportation services from the communities to health centers and hospitals.
  3. All factories be inspected for safety and health violations at least once a year.
  4. Environmental programs that expose and resolve health problems such as poor housing, malnutrition, lead poisoning, rat infestation, venereal disease, air pollution, sickle cell anemia, and all other forms of health exploitation and oppression.
  5. Change in the city Charter so that more working people could be on the Board of Health.

The People’s Health Movement has focused its attack on the Cincinnati Health Department because it is the agency that has the legal responsibility for serving the health needs of the residents of Cincinnati. So far PHM has forced the Health Commissioner to resign, was involved in choosing the new Commissioner, has forced the Board of Health to resign and managed to have one of the five successors be a person chosen by the PHM, has forced the City Council to amend the City Charter to expand the Board of Health and has fought along with local communities to improve the neighborhood health centers.

The PHM has attempted to provide a focal point around which working people can begin to have their needs met. The struggle has just begun. The following is a quote from the draft of the People’s Health Movement manifesto:

“The PHM intends to keep those who control the health industry from moving along without our voices and needs being heard. Health care is the right of all people; not a privilege of those who happen to be rich and influential. We know our needs and refuse to have them shuffled about and overlooked…. We will struggle to destroy this system that treats us not as people but as animals and in its place create a system that includes our goals and is responsible to us.”

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