Course Announcement: The Struggle for Health and Access to Affordable Medicines (Cape Town, November 2019)

The Struggle for Health and Access to Affordable Medicines – Cape Town November 2019

The International People’s Health University (IPHU) of the People’s Health Movement (PHM), jointly with PHM-South Africa and the Third World Network, announces “THE STRUGGLE FOR HEALTH AND ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE MEDICINES”, a short training course for young public health professionals including health activists from 2-9th November (excluding travel dates) in Cape Town, South Africa.


The course to be held in Cape Town will commence with a broad overview of the context of access to medicines in particular the political economy of health, structure of the pharmaceutical industry, medicines related policy and regulation and then deal specifically with matters of intellectual property and access to medicines.

The overview curriculum will include:

  • the struggle for health and organised health activism: challenges, strategy and practice, achievements and new directions;
  • social determinants of health: poverty, oppression and hierarchy; alienation and exclusion; racism, sexism and materialism;
  • comprehensive primary health care: achievements, challenges, lessons and new directions; health system strengthening; the politics of health policy;
  • the political economy of health: imperialism and globalisation, the international financial institutions and the UN system; local issues and global pressures;
  • the structure of the pharmaceutical industry;
  • the regulation of the pharmaceutical supply chain

The curriculum for intellectual property and access to medicines will focus on creating the conditions for the full deployment and utilisation of flexibilities provided for in WTO’s Trade Related Agreement on Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) and the constraints and opportunities that exist at the national and regional level. The course will also discuss the current discourses with respect to intellectual property and access to medicines taking place internationally. Hence the focus topics will include:

  • relationship of intellectual property and access to medicines;
  • the requirements of the TRIPS Agreement;
  • public health sensitive TRIPS flexibilities such as compulsory licensing, parallel importation, patentability criteria, opposition systems, exemptions for least developed countries (LDC); TRIPS-plus provisions and implications for access to medicines;
  • current and new approaches to pharmaceutical research and development;
  • the breadth of factors determining equitable access to medicines and safe and effective treatment and the significance of intellectual property issues in this scope


IPHU short courses are designed to enable younger public health professionals including health activists to make new connections, share experiences and study together. They aim at strengthening the People’s Health Movement and the wider movement for health equity globally.

The course is planned for young health activists and practitioners working on the issues of health, access to medicines and human rights and particularly including those involved or wishing to be involved in the People’s Health Movement (PHM). While many applicants will have a university degree or equivalent, it is not a prerequisite.  The Resource Page from the Savar 2018 IPHU, which included a focus on access to medicines, will give an overview and understanding about the curriculum, resource persons and what to expect from the course –

To participate in the course, you will have to complete the application form. Organisers will review the applications and select participants for the IPHU course.

Priority, with respect to enrolment, will be given to:

  • Younger people motivated to get involved in PHM (and who have endorsed the People’s Charter for Health);
  • Primary health care, public health practitioners and those working towards issues of Access to Medicines;
  • People with a track record as health activists within the PHM, in particular, people who have been actively involved in organizations which are part of the PHM.
  • Applicants from low as well as middle income countries.

A total of 35-40 participants will be selected. The enrolment policy aims to achieve:

  • Geographical mix,
  • Gender balance,
  • Diversity of involvements: community based organizations, health care agencies, NGOs, universities, government officials, etc; and
  • Diversity of skills, records of activism, interests, experience, and educational backgrounds.


The course will be conducted largely in English, including most of the resource materials. There will be limited provision for English-French-English simultaneous translation. Participants should be able to communicate and write in English.

Registration Fees

All international participants will be required to pay registration fees, on arrival for the IPHU course.

Registration for the IPHU covers the cost of training materials, food and shared accommodation during the IPHU

  • USD30 (or equivalent) for low and lower middle income countries
  • USD50 (or equivalent) for other participants


PHM is committed to reducing the financial barriers to attending IPHU. Hence, travel and accommodation costs will be covered for applicants who are selected to attend on the basis of cheapest available economy flight for long distance, and bus/train for short distance

Flight tickets will be booked by the PHM Global Secretariat upon a written confirmation by the participant of the itinerary provided. Most flight tickets will be non-refundable; accordingly, participants will be asked to pay back the cost of their tickets if they do not show up. This policy is only to ensure that we are using our limited resources efficiently. Participants are expected to arrive early on 1st November and depart immediately on conclusion of the course.

Accommodation provided will be basic and in shared facilities

Meals (breakfast, lunch, coffee-breaks and dinner) will be provided.

Please note that IPHU scholarships do not cover visa fee, airport tax & travel insurance (if applicable), personal living expenses, per diems, or local transportation in the home country.

If any applicant is able to cover his/her costs of participation (in whole or in part), please do let the organizers know as this will enable the organizers to support additional participants.

The IPHU approach to learning

  • Start with the struggle for health
  • Teach and learn in partnership
  • Knowledge is imbued with purpose
  • New ideas must be used
  • Activism is an ethical commitment
  • Learn new ways of being (as well as new facts and theories)
  • Refresh, enquire, research
  • Nurture leadership: judgment which inspires confidence; integrity which creates trust and the courage to take risks
  • Learn to listen to learn; learn to teach; teach to learn
  • Steer our own learning; grow the skills and habits of life-long learning
  • Build our community of activists
  • Stay with the struggle for health

The course will involve: pre-reading and exercises; lectures, small group discussions, debates, workshops and follow up study. Resource materials will take the form of soft copy readings and lecture notes and websites.


Faculty members will be a mix of academics and health activists of rich experience, from within the region and beyond.

Last date for applying for the Course: August 23, 2019

The organisers will inform the status of applications by 15th September