ALMA-ATA at 40: The Power of Sympathy Groups and Participation

Anthony Costello Few doctors realize that their work is often about human rights. A few years ago Flavia Bustreo, then Assistant Director-General of WHO, and Paul Hunt, the first UN Special Rapporteur on the right to the highest attainable standard of health, wrote to me to ask for some case studies of our community women’s group programs in Asia and Africa. It hadn’t occurred to me that mobilising women through…

ALMA-ATA at 40: Its Values are Relevant to the Data Economy

Carmel Williams In 1978 when the Alma-Ata Declaration called on urgent action by all governments to protect and promote the health of all, primary health care was described as ‘essential health care, based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible … and at a cost that the community and country can afford to maintain…’. It was also, in the first paragraph, acknowledged as a…

ALMA-ATA at 40: Reviving an Old Script to Strengthen Health Governance

Allan Maleche and Nerima Were The Alma-Ata Declaration had the wisdom 40 years ago to state: All governments should formulate national policies, strategies and plans of action to launch and sustain primary health care as part of a comprehensive national health system and in coordination with other sectors. To this end, it will be necessary to exercise political will, to mobilize the country’s resources and to use available external resources…

ALMA-ATA at 40: Primary Health Care Remains Key to Health for All—Now

Claudio Schuftan A contemporary primary health care policy needs renewed commitments, which, while affirming the fundamental positions of 40 years ago, also takes into account today’s realities. We have to address the obstacles that have blocked implementation of primary health care since the Alma-Ata Declaration in 1978. Therefore, to embed primary health care in today’s social and political processes it must: include public health interventions, a working referral system to…

ALMA-ATA at 40: Time for a Critical Health Economics

Sara L.M. Davis When the Alma-Ata declaration was launched in 1978, it called for “urgent action” by states and others to ensure a “level of health that will permit [people] to lead a socially and economically productive life.”[1] A product of its time, the declaration emphasized that economic development was an unqualified social good; the world did not know as much in 1978 about the problems that unrestrained economic development…

ALMA-ATA at 40: Civil Society Continues the Commitment to Health for All

Leigh K. Haynes and Julia Robinson With the Alma-Ata Declaration, the world committed to achieving “health for all by the year 2000”, designating this “a most important world-wide social goal.” It identified primary health care as the principal strategy to reach this goal and highlighted the necessity for action from not only the health sector but also other social and economic sectors (Section I, Section X). In the subsequent four…

ALMA-ATA at 40: Revisiting the Declaration

Audrey R. Chapman The fortieth anniversary of the Declaration of Alma-Ata comes at a time when primary health care is once again receiving some well-deserved attention.[1] Target 3.8 of the Sustainable Development Goals to achieve universal health coverage has energized many countries to make a greater effort to progress toward that goal.[2] Four decades ago the Declaration of Alma- Ata identified primary health care as key to the attainment of…

ALMA-ATA at 40: A Milestone in the Evolution of the Right to Health and an Enduring Legacy for Human Rights in Global Health

Benjamin Mason Meier, Maximillian Seunik, Roopa Dhatt, and Lawrence O. Gostin Forty years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF convened the International Conference on Primary Health Care on September 6, 1978 in Alma-Ata, USSR (now Almaty, Kazakhstan). With representatives from 134 states, this conference adopted the Declaration on Primary Health Care (known as the Declaration of Alma-Ata), through which delegates memorialized their agreement that primary health care was…

Side Effects: Persecution of Health Workers in Nicaragua

Lori Hanson Dia de los Trabajadores de la Salud (Health Workers Day) on 9 August was a somber and bitter affair in Nicaragua this year. Rather than celebrating, the Nicaraguan Medical Association (AMN) marked the day recounting medical personnel affected by the ongoing political crisis in Nicaragua—the dead, the wounded, the persecuted, and the fired. Hundreds of medical students and health professionals have been affected—and countless numbers of patients stand…

AIDS 2018 – Debates Over Best Use of Global Funds

Sara L.M. Davis Steadily growing rates of HIV infection in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) are at the heart of a debate roiling health aid at AIDS 2018. While US funding for the global HIV response increased in 2017, that trend is unlikely to continue and most other donors cut back, according to a new report from Kaiser Family Foundation and UNAIDS. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB…