Atlantic Philanthropies

What We're Learning

Speech: Addressing the Root Causes of Social Injustice

Le Nhan Phuong

25 October 2009

The road to lasting change in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people begins with the courage to ask the right questions, said Le Nhan Phuong, Programme Director of the Population Health Programme at The Atlantic Philanthropies, in this speech at the International Conference on Realising the Rights to Health and Development for All.

Dear Ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to be here today representing The Atlantic Philanthropies. We are very proud to be one of the sponsors for this year International Conference on Realising the Rights to Health and Development for All, which is being co-hosted by the Central Commission for Popularization and Education of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) Initiative for Health and Human Rights.

On its website, the Conference articulated its goal as providing “opportunity for participants to share their knowledge and experience and draw-up a policy and program action plan for a rights-based approach to health and development” particularly “to [the] health and development aspirations and capacities of populations with special needs,... marginalised populations,... and populations most vulnerable to the compounded impacts of climate change, food scarcity or global economic recession.” We deeply share the Conference’s goals and applaud its social justice values.

A few words about who we are. The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Atlantic makes grants through its four programme areas - Ageing, Children & Youth, Population Health, and Reconciliation & Human Rights - and through Founding Chairman grants. Programmes funded by Atlantic operate in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Viet Nam.

Social justice has long been at the core of much of Atlantic’s work to date, whether it is our work in Viet Nam to extend health care to the rural poor by assisting provinces to rebuild their primary health care clinics; or addressing the issues of mental health in the community; or our support for the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa, which fights for increased access to treatment, care and support for people with HIV/AIDS.

We continually focus on the people who are most disadvantaged. But increasingly, we are now also working to address the root causes of social injustice, the question of why those groups of people are disadvantaged in the first place? We believe that without a clear understanding of the real problem, it will be hard to make lasting change.

That is why we are thrilled to support such an effort inside Viet Nam to address the what’s, why’s, and how’s of inequities in health and development. The road to las