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  • Writer's pictureMoira Png

Catalysing Movements for Health

Movements for Health (M4H) began as a vision to look at how collective human actions, when harnessed positively, can generate great momentum and effect sustainable behaviour change towards health. By exploring the concepts of ground-up energy and the influence of an activated community, different community-based models were studied from both local and overseas examples.

(Photo courtesy of: Bold At Work -

The potential and capabilities that communities hold within them has become increasingly clear; they are the recipients as well as the informal providers of care; they deeply understand communities’ needs and are able to effectively address issues because they are a part of those communities. Their lived experience and engagement is vital to building a sustainable healthcare system and a culture that supports and elevates ground-up actions[1].

We can take reference from influential environmental sustainability movements that have landed on our shores.

In fact, the concept of social movements goes beyond the mobilization of people to challenge status quo - it creates far-reaching possibilities of synergistic interactions between individuals, communities and organisations[2], to reshape existing behaviours, influence complex systems, and be an effective ground-up approach to drive transformational change.

M4H began in 2020 on an exciting front - bringing together expertise across the health-social nexus, as well as the “heart” of communities and stakeholders driven towards similar goals. Envisioned as an innovative model to activate ground-up actions and influence community health behaviour change, M4H seeks to build capabilities and reshape narratives in order to create a community culture and ecosystem that supports and sustains healthy lifestyles. The demonstration of M4H will provide valuable understanding of the socio-behavioural and environmental influences of health, and inform future strategic developments around community activation for health.

Building upon the understanding that M4H is uniquely positioned to engage a diverse group of stakeholders to catalyse movements for health, representatives involved ranged from communities, institutions, funders, evaluators and capability builders. As the team transitioned into implementation of the M4H pilot in the western region of Singapore in 2021, a valuable element from this opportunity was the diverse set of voices which collectively enriched conversations and the co-learning process of M4H. Navigating the interactions within the ecosystem proved challenging yet promising as the team and partners strived to create effective collaborations to build and sustain ground-up movements for health.

Participants at a M4H Stories Of Self workshop trial run

(Photo courtesy of: Bold At Work -


As the M4H journey progresses deeper into implementation and evaluation, the team will be challenged in various ways including the integration of health and social elements in enabling holistic health. The demonstration of agility in evolving processes and perspectives will continue to be vital as we harness upon collective energies to build healthy and resilient communities. The road towards mobilising communities for health and transforming health promotion will be an exciting space to watch.


Sincere appreciation and gratitude towards all past and present staff who have actively contributed towards the development and progress of M4H, as well as organisations and mentors who have kindly shared their experiences with the M4H team during the course of our journey.

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[1] Nesta. (2016). Health as a Social Movement: The Power of People in Movements. Nesta Health Lab. [2] Burbudge, I. (2019). Releasing Energy for Change in our Communities: Social Movements in Health. RSA Action and Research Centre.

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