Social movements for the right to health

sociale bewegingen mouvements sociaux

Social movements are at the forefront of defending and promoting the right to health. Their ability to contribute to public debate and to take part in decision-making processes depends greatly on the openness of the democratic spaces in which they operate. This is why Viva Salud has made this one of its priorities.

Democratic space is under threat worldwide: criminalization, stigmatization, defamation, harassment, delegitimization of social movements and the activists who engage in them. Indeed, according to the Civicus Monitor, 9 out of 10 people live in countries where civil liberties are severely restricted. Just over 3% of the world’s population lives in a country with an open democratic space. In 2021, Belgium’s situation has changed from “open” to “restricted”.

Social movements are a major force for change. All over the world, they are at the forefront of the defense and promotion of the right to health. They act as watchdogs and guide public policies towards greater social justice. Good health and the opening of democratic spaces, both national and international, are therefore conditions for the development of effective and inclusive health systems.

Our objectives

First, we defend the essential role of social movements in favour of the right to health. Together with our partners, supporters and volunteers, we campaign to strengthen the influence of social movements in the implementation of public health policies. We call for protective measures for social movements to enable them, within open and transparent democratic spaces, to contribute to the development of equitable and accessible public health systems for all.

So strong networks, massive mobilization, international solidarity and joint campaigns can make a difference. We can secure the release of persecuted human rights defenders like Shatha Odeh in Palestine or Dr. Naty Castro in the Philippines in 2022.

Our collaborations

With our Filipino, Congolese and Palestinian partners and other organizations such as the People’s Health Movement, trade unions and Intal, we are building a global social movement for health. Thus, we seek to bring together social organizations, social actors and committed individuals, driven by common values and a willingness to act together for the defense of the right to health.

Finally, through campaigns like Only Fighters Win and our active role in the Defend the Defenders platform, we are highlighting the critical role of social movements in the fight for the right to health.


Victor de Roeck

Policy & Campaign

Find our related campaigns:


NOTATARTGET: Let’s stand up for health activists!

All over the world health activists, workers⸱s, organizations and movements are victims of repression. But our health can only be safe if theirs is. Let’s stand up for them!

Participate with Viva Salud in the marathon in Palestine!

On March 1st, 2024 Viva Salud will once again participate in the Palestine Marathon to draw attention to the deprivation of freedom of movement in Palestine. Join us!


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