Health Worker Protests & Proposals

The Health Worker Protest pilot project launched in May 2020. This open-source initiative monitors, collects, and shares media reports of health worker protests and proposals around the world— coronavirus-related and beyond. The collection of these reports is intended to help raise awareness of accountability challenges in the health sector, highlighting the needs and proposals of health workers.


This pilot learning project seeks to understand the relationship between the right to health and the rights of health workers. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is straining both public and private health care systems around the world. Health workers risk their own lives to ensure access to healthcare and protect the lives of others. Frontline health workers are still at great risk, from lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) to discrimination or harassment. Some face repercussions for whistleblowing or walkouts. The current global crisis has given rise to a new wave of innovative protests and proposals from health workers on the frontline.

The initiative launched in May of 2020. In the first year of this initiative, this ARC pilot project received and shared over 830 health worker protest and proposal reports from 96 countries. In July 2021 the Health Worker Protest Project shifted to a research focus. There are several researchers currently working on complimentary analysis of the reports compiled and shared by the project during the first year of the pandemic. Researchers hope to shed light on the health worker needs and demands expressed in the many international protests, as well as the accountability failures related to them.

Why Health Worker Protests?

This pilot project attempts to learn from patterns that may emerge when we see the international diversity of health worker protests and proposals. Recognition of health worker voices and actions will shed light on a wide range of accountability failures in public health and governance systems, as well as uplift health worker proposals for how to improve public health systems.

This pilot project builds on the ARC mission by:

  • Recognizing the work, needs, and proposals of health worker advocates.
  • Sharing diverse and creative approaches to accountability challenges in the health sector.
  • Enabling health rights advocates and allies to gain insights or inspiration from the protests and proposals around the world.


Now in the analysis phase, researchers involved in this project include Veena Sriram, Assistant Professor, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA) and the School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) at the University of British Columbia; Sorcha Brophy, Assistant Professor of Health Policy & Management at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University; and Jennifer Johnson, Master of Sustainable Development Practice (MDP) student at the University of Florida. ARC director Jonathan Fox and research professor Naomi Hossain provide strategic and analytical support.

Want to co-create a research and advocacy agenda with us?

We invite inquiries from researchers and organizations of health workers to discuss potential shared agendas. Please contact us via social media or email.

Related Resources

Heroes on Strike: Trends in Global Health Worker Protests During COVID-19 (Sorcha A. Brophy, Veena Sriram, Haotian Zong, Chloei Andres, Maria Paz Mawyin, and Narayanan GL, 2022)

Voices from the pandemic frontlines: Health worker protests and proposals from 84 countries (Jennifer Johnson 2020)
Le projet de protestation des agents de santé (Accountability Research Center 2020)
O projeto protestos de trabalhadores de saúde (Accountability Research Center 2020)
El Proyecto protesta de los trabajadores de la salud (Accountability Research Center 2020)