Category Archives: Structural determinants of health

Social and Structural Determinants of Health: A Global Perspective

Social and Structural Determinants of Health: A Global Perspective

A further discussion of the social and structural determinants of health.  In two presentations recorded at the International League of People’s Struggles Fourth International Assembly Martha Roberts from the Alliance for People’s Health and Delen de la Paz from Health Action for Human Rights expose the inadequacy of the World Health Organization’s interpretation of a social determinants of health approach and argue that we need to look to socialist models of health care such as in Cuba and post-revolution China for a guide to creating a truly people centred health care system.

This is the second and final ‘report back’ show on Martha and Aiyanas’s 2011 solidarity trip to the Philippines.  You can read more about our trip at our blog This Tiny Globe.  You can also read more of Martha’s analysis of the social and structural determinants of health on the blog.

Social and Structural Determinants of Health in the Philippines |

A land occupation in norther Negros, Philippines, the flag of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) is flying

Social and Structural Determinants of Health in the Philippines |

Martha and Aiyanas, members of the Alliance for People’s Health and People’s Health Radio, recently spent 6 weeks in the Philippines working with grassroots people’s health organizations on the island of Negros.  In this episode, the first of two report backs, they reflect on the need to address structural issues (resources, land, power and control) in order to substantially improve people’s health.  On Negros, people’s organizations have begun to occupy land slated for the (inadequate, corrupt and stalled) comprehensive agrarian reform program (CARP) with dramatic results.

The show includes an interview with leading human rights advocate Toto from Escalante City in Northern Negros and movement music.  You can read more about the international work of the Alliance for People’s Health international work at and more about Martha and Aiyanas’s trip at

Dying for a ride

Lately I’ve been thinking about public transit.   It’s a buzzing sort of worry that comes to me when I am doing something mindless.  Actually, I’ve been trying NOT to think about public transit. It gives me no small amount of anxiety to do so.  But much as I try to distract myself, I have to say that  I am really worried about the people that ride the buses and trains here in Vancouver.

Two news items have been floating around in my mind over the last couple weeks.  One, the shooting of  Charles Hill in San Francisco by BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police officers.  Charles Hill is the fifth man killed by BART police since 1992, and the first white man to be killed by them.   He was homeless and drunk, and shot within 60 seconds of police arriving on scene.

Just days before, MUNI police shot a 19 year old Black man when he fled during a routine fare check.   These are  sad, infuriating, and increasingly familiar stories.

And the other news item is closer to home.  Turnstiles in Skytrain stations. Lauded by many pundits as a blow against ‘free loaders’ in the transit system, the turnstiles don’t make any sort of fiscal sense.  They will cost 170 million dollars to build.  15 million dollars a year to operate.  ‘Fare evasion’ costs between 5 – 9 million dollars per year (a number that many say is overblown).

So the benefit of the turnstiles isn’t financial.  They will cost far more than they save.  The turnstiles are a coup for people who think transit should be privatized.  They are a triumph for people who think poor people should be ashamed and kept out of site.

Mark my words.  The Vancouver transit police (with their guns) won’t go away.  We’ll have both the police and the turnstiles.  No question in my mind.

Turnstiles and guns.  Blood and money.  Life and death.  People need to ride the bus to get where they need to go.   To get to the doctors.  To get to their job.  To get to the welfare office.  To see their kids.  Sometimes I feel like this city is becoming more cruel every day.

What’s the health impact of all this?  In some ways we could measure it (maybe a survey of the amount of walking poor people have to do before and after the turnstiles?  The amount of doctors appointments missed?  Family not seen?) and in some ways we can’t really measure  it.  How do we measure the feeling of being an outsider in your own city?  Of feeling criminalized for being poor?  The stress of keeping track of every quarter so you can make it to work tomorrow?

And the connection between the two stories?  The police killing someone who can’t pay their fare  is to me a predictable result of criminalizing people for being poor, or Black, or mentally ill.  And that makes me really sick.


Health and Human Rights in the Philippines


What’s the state of health and human rights in the Philippines today?

We revisit the story of the Morong 43, a group of 43 community health workers detained by the Philippine Government from February to December of 2010.  What have been the impacts of the detainment and ongoing military harassment on the health workers, their families and communities?


Interview with Aiyanas Ormond – People’s Health Radio co-host and local organizer who is currently in the Philippines with his partner and children on a solidarity mission.  More information about their trip can be found at

Interview with Merry Mia-Clamor, one of the 43 health workers detained by the Philppine government.

and audio from a talk in Vancouver by Dr. Julie Caguiat, spokesperson of the Free the 43 Health Workers! Alliance.

Music by Victor Noriega, Aki Merced/Renato Reyes/Karl Ramirez, Amadou, James Caraang (Feat. Margie Banda and Sol Diana), Black Uhuru

Poverty, criminalization and health |

Poverty, criminalization and health |

We tell the story of the story of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users campaign against ticketing for vending, jaywalking and public urination in the Downtown Eastside. Positive community alternatives to criminalization and the struggle to see them implemented.

Is Capitalism a Disease?


A re-broadcast of our very first show on PHR  – updated and remastered.

We talk to Richard Levins (John Rock Professor of Population Sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health) , Dennis Raphael (Professor of Health Policy and Management at York University)and Martha Roberts (Midwife, Community Organizer with the Alliance for People’s Health) asking the question:  Is Capitalism a disease?  Are structural inequality, class exploitation, racism and sexism making us sick?

We take the conversation about health beyond health care and look at health from a holistic perspective.  What does it mean to be sick, and to be well?  What does a healthy life look like?

We’ll be adding more resources on this over the next few days… so check back in soon!

Martin Luther King's Campaign for Economic Human Rights