Health Action International was founded during the World Health Assembly in Geneva in 1981 by civil society actors outraged at the inequality they witnessed in global health. It was the start of a rights-based, ethical and values-driven campaign focused on the impact that private capital and the drive for profit was having on the ‘health for all’ agenda. Forty years later, we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and face an ongoing fight to ensure equitable access to safe, effective, quality-medicines and vaccines for everyone, everywhere. But what of the big picture in which civil society must operate? What is the current state of conflicts of interest, politics and values in global health that civil society should and must uphold?
As we celebrate HAI’s 40th year, we will also reflect on these big questions and our core values. We want to open up a civil society conversation so many of us have been having in private, on the state of world health, the role of WHO, donors and civil society and what we, as civil society, are going to do about it. So, to mark this milestone, our short event is split into two sessions:
SESSION 1: CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, POLITICAL TENSION AND LOST VALUES IN GLOBAL HEALTH
Panel discussion on the role of civil society in the global health debate. Forty years on from HAI’s founding, where have we come as civil society, and where are we going? In the face of a changing donor environment and the apparent strength of organisations using corporate, philanthropic and celebrity power to position themselves in spaces usually reserved for legitimate, public interest groups, how can we continue to fulfil our roles?
SESSION 2: A CELEBRATION OF 40 YEARS OF INFLUENCE
Raise a glass to HAI and all the people, past and present, who make the organisation what it is. Share your own experiences and memories of working with HAI and hear from others, from founders to current staff, who join us in celebration.