Closing speech of the First International Conference on Social Determinants on Health

I could start this closing speech just to say yes, we have achieved the conference goal: to increase academic knowledge on the social determinants of health in Mozambique. 

Social Determinants of Health

Governments, donors, those with power have monopolised health in this country and have sometimes "consulted" us (in quotation marks)

Friends and colleagues who have made it possible to create this space for friendship and resistance so health can be a right for all,

I could start this closing speech just to say yes, we have achieved the conference goal: to increase academic knowledge on the social determinants of health in Mozambique. But at this point, and after three days together, I think I should be honest with you.

Yes, my friends, we have reached this goal. Never before has a space of this magnitude been opened in Mozambique. A space to discuss health as a right, to discuss all aspects, such as the social, participation, economic, environmental etc., a space to demand health for all. A space led by national and international social movements. In fact, and if I am wrong please correct me, I do not know of any other similar conference that has been held in the region to date.

 

But in fact, this was not the only goal, nor the most important. The real objective of what we have done here was to continue to nurture our dream of building a better world. In a country like Mozambique, where the might of reality often overwhelms our hearts, we needed to fire up our dreams, our energy, our initiative and, basically, our ability to keep on fighting the fight for the health of the people.

While we were preparaing for this event and, especially over these three days, we have felt we are not alone in this fight. I am very excited to be able to count on all of you, social movements, universities, Ministry of Health staff who have collaborated with us ... and I believe each of us has discovered colleagues here with whom we will continue working and creating alliances: in fact, there is always a moment of clarity, freedom and capability when we wake up knowing who we can walk with in life.

In this country, on many occasions we have felt the design of social and health policies is not our responsibility. It feels like other people should say what is best for our health, what should and should not be done. Governments, donors, those with power have monopolised health in this country and have sometimes "consulted" us (in quotation marks) ... Who in this room has never felt they were invited to a meeting just to tick a box to show "civil society" was present, thereby validating a space of power in which our opinion was, in fact, actually being restricted?

I will not say I am surprised, nor sad ... but in fact many people would be baffled if they knew that United Nations agencies, WHO itself, major donors, Global Funds, those responsible for public policy, and I could go on to recite a long list, did not participate in this, the 1st International Conference on the Social Determinants of Health to have taken place in the country ... despite this, we will continue to say to all those who want to defend health as a right that the door will always be open to work with us if you want to collaborate as equals. The train is moving, social movements will not stop.

I don’t know about you, but I think the time has passed when we ask permission, knock on the doors of the supposed experts and wait for an answer so we can take charge of our health. It is time to move forwards because, quite frankly, we know what we want and how to do it: we want quality public health, we want health for all, and we want a leading role in this, we want it to be our voice that talks about our health.

I sincerely hope these three days have helped to feed the passion, the dream and the desire not only to resist, but also to move forwards, gaining more ground day by day, more space and a greater leading role.

Dear friends, I know we are not family, but if any of you tremble with indignation every time an injustice is committed in the world, we are partners, and that is what matters most.

Many Thanks

 

 

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