Our work starts from five fundamental principles that we apply in all our programmes:

  • a human rights-based approach to health;
  • equity and gender;
  • systemic change;
  • mutual learning and knowledge exchange; and
  • creating and broadening civic space.


Human rights-based approach to health

We analyse and address the inequalities, discriminatory practices and unjust power relations which are often at the heart of (health) systems failures, as well as the underlying causes preventing people from exercising their right to health.


Equity and gender

Our programmes consistently pay special attention to people, communities, minorities and professions who are at risk of losing out on the right to health. We propose policy alternatives to achieve equity: they are designed to prevent unfair, avoidable differences arising from poor governance, corruption or cultural exclusion.


Systemic change

Ultimately, achieving universal health coverage (UHC) requires not simply addressing power imbalances that perpetuate inequalities, but also actively promoting systemic changes – political, economic and social – both in individual countries and globally.


Click to enlarge to see what we consider to be a good health system.





Poorly performing health systems are an immediate reason why many people lack access to effective health services. A strong health system depends on the right economic, social and political conditions being in place. These may necessitate changes in decision-making and budgeting processes, new financing mechanisms, or different ways of involving stakeholders in the design, implementation and monitoring of policy.




Mutual learning and knowledge exchange

Establishing equal partnerships with national CSOs is an important part of our advocacy approach. This we do through a process of dialogue, sharing knowledge on global policy debates and their significance for the country context, and finding common ground on particular policy issues. Working from this starting point, we consult stakeholders, analyse the political and policy environment, and review studies, national data and policies. We compare our findings with global policy agreements and identify areas where change is needed.


We envision our partnerships with national CSOs as a mutual learning process. Together, we develop joint advocacy messages to voice both globally and in individual countries under the leadership of national CSOs. Ultimately, partnership helps to create an open space in which national partners strengthen their capacity for advocacy and for disseminating messages based on an understanding of global issues and how they affect national policies. At the same time, this enables us to use national experiences to enrich our analysis of health-related global policies and political trends.


Creating and broadening civic space

If true change is to come about, there needs to be a deliberate shift in the power balance in favour of those who are most affected. This also applies to our advocacy approach: we acknowledge that many civil-society opinions and views are either not heard or are overshadowed by those of large international CSOs.