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One System for All: Fighting for Universal Access to Health Care

A strong health care system can only survive if the population fights to protect it.

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Cutting the budget so we move toward a US model is only one answer to “filling in the hole.” The direction we should be taking is to improve prevention and start to truly tackle the social determinants of health [the conditions in which people are born, live, and work, which are determined by social factors such as income levels and power]. This implies, of course, substantive shifts in many policy sectors: housing, labor market, education.

Translated by David Dudar.

Inspired? Here are a few suggestions for getting involved!

  • Demand that government-funded research of pharmaceuticals be available to all medical researchers and not simply given to private corporations for profit-making. Fight for the availability of affordable medicines around the world. Medecins Sans Frontieres has a campaign for the access to essential medicines (
  • Organize to change state health care legislation. Visit the Universal Health Care Action Network’s State Connections map to find out what groups organize around health care justice in your state (
  • Join the Healthcare-NOW campaign to pass HR 676. It would establish an American national universal health insurance program by creating a publicly financed, privately delivered health care system that uses the already existing Medicare program (
  • Get involved with the movement for a single-payer national health insurance system. Health professionals can link up with Physicians for a National Health Program by becoming a member, and everyone can check out their suggestions for action (

And check out the following resources and organizations:


This piece is the eighth in a series called  Birthing Justice: Women Creating Economic and Social Alternatives. The series features twelve alternative social and economic models which expand the possibilities for justice, equity, and strong community. They are based in the US, Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Some are national-level, some global-level. Some are propelled by people’s movements, some forced or adopted into government policy. In first-hand narratives, women describe their role in having created the models and show us their unique perspectives and challenges in the movements.

Beverly Bell has worked with Haitian social movements for over 30 years. She is also author of the book Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's Stories of Survival and Resistance. She coordinates Other Worlds, which promotes social and economic alternatives. She is also associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.

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