Active Global Citizenship: Ethical Living to Promote Human Rights

Bernadette O’Hare Many people want to live lifestyles that are in harmony with their values, and to make choices that do not inadvertently harm the economic and social human rights of others. Their priorities may be shaped, in part by the most pressing concerns in the world, such as the environment, inequality between and within countries, and include the planet (climate change), people (the impact our choices have on others)…

ALMA-ATA at 40: Time to Expand to Planetary Health Care

Renzo Guinto This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Alma-Ata Declaration, a landmark global health policy document that reinforced health as a fundamental human right and emphasized that gross health inequalities are by no means acceptable. It also prescribed primary health care (PHC) founded on essential health services and community participation as a vital strategy towards achieving ‘Health for All’ by year 2000. In 2018, we still do not…

ALMA-ATA at 40: Insights from Canada

Martha Roberts, Baijayanta Mukhopadhyay, Anne-Emanuelle Birn, Farah Shroff, Smita Pakhale, and Lori Hanson As an engaged participant in the 1978 International Conference on Primary Health Care, which issued the Alma-Ata Declaration, Canada affirmed that: The existing gross inequality in the health status of the people particularly between developed and developing countries as well as within countries is politically, socially and economically unacceptable and is, therefore, of common concern to all…

ALMA-ATA at 40: From Siloes to Synergy—Linking Primary Health Care to Human Rights

Gillian MacNaughton and Diane F. Frey In the 1970s, two international milestones emerged to advance health for all. In 1978, the International Conference on Primary Health Care—a joint project of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF—adopted the Declaration of Alma-Ata. The Declaration called “for urgent and effective national and international action to develop and implement primary health care throughout the world and particularly in developing countries.”[1] It also reaffirmed…

​ALMA-ATA at 40: Time for WHO to Walk the Talk of Human Rights

Curtis F.J. Doebbler The 1978 Alma-Ata Declaration defined the ‘Health for All by the Year 2000’ strategy. Its call for inclusiveness was underpinned by a commitment to the right to health, driven by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its then Director-General Halfdan Mahler (left). The declaration focused on the most vulnerable among us, our children. It advocated an approach to primary health founded in the right to health for all. Alma-Ata signalled…

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…