The genesis of the Healthy Societies platform emerged from a meeting of a diverse and global group of health and development practitioners in London in 2017. Convened by Professor Sarah Hawkes, Dr Kent Buse and Dr Anders Nordström, the brainstorming was grounded in a shared belief that societies ought to give greater priority to health and well-being, and a concern that the global health system is not, at present, effectively addressing the causes and the 'causes of the causes' of disease and health inequity.
While recognising that ensuring the right of all people to access health services is essential, as is the management of public health emergencies, participants agreed that approaches to address the structural, social and commercial determinants of the major emerging burdens of disease remain sorely neglected - to the detriment of people’s health everywhere. Over the course of the day, the experts concluded that a fundamental shift in public health is needed if the world is to achieve the health-related Sustainable Development Goal targets. Together, participants called for a pivot to prevention – where society places greater attention on prevention, where people are placed over profits, and where all-of-society efforts and built environments promote and protect health--including through rights-based and gender-transformative approaches.
To catalyse this pivot, the concept of the Healthy Societies platform was born. An independent initiative, it has one overarching goal: to advocate for healthier, more equitable societies that uphold the human rights and gender equality of all people and rely on more sustainable means – thus protecting both people and planet.
The initiative will showcase the best available evidence in accessible formats – written, visual and interactive. The website will highlight opportunities and concrete actions to inform the ‘how’ of moving from theory to practice as well as promoting transparency and accountability in public and private sectors.
Healthy Societies is an independent, non-profit initiative founded by Sarah Hawkes and Kent Buse in their personal capacities. It is curated by a team led by Anna Purdie.
Kent is a policy analyst who taught at Yale University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He has co-authored/edited 5 books and over 100 articles, including on gender and global health. He has worked for a range of institutions in numerous countries spanning Africa, Asia, North America and the Pacific. Kent is a champion for social justice, human rights and the democratization of opportunity for all. He loves to cook and is Chief of Strategic Policy Directions at UNAIDS, where he also provides support to GH5050. Follow Kent on twitter @KentBuse.
Sarah Hawkes is the Director of the Centre for Gender and Global Health, and a medical doctor with a degree in sociology and a PhD in epidemiology. She is Professor of Global Public Health at University College London where she leads a research theme analysing the use of evidence in policy processes, particularly in relation to gender and health, and sexual health. She has lived and worked for much of the past 20 years in Asia, where she has gathered evidence, built capacity and helped develop policy for programmes focusing on gender, sexual health and human rights. She works closely with national governments, research organisations, WHO and UNFPA in Asia and the Middle East. Follow Sarah on twitter @feminineupheave.
Anna is a Programme Manager at the Institute for Global Health, working within the UCL Centre for Gender and Global Health. She focuses on gender, NCDs and public engagement, and is the Programme Manager for Global Health 50/50. She has an MSc in Anthropology from Development from the LSE, and a BA in Social Anthropology from Cambridge University. She has previously spent time in Geneva working at UNAIDS. Follow Anna on twitter @Anna_Purdie.