On 25-26 October 2018, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Global Conference on Primary Health Care held at Astana, Kazakhstan. This conference, organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and the government of Kazakhstan was a gathering of delegates from UN member states, policymakers and health professionals. It marked the 40th anniversary of the historical Declaration of Alma Ata, also signed in Kazakhstan, where primary health care was first put forward as a concept, entrenched in the principles of equity, social justice, community participation and inter-sectoral collaboration.
The Declaration of Astana re-affirmed the world’s commitment to primary health care in achieving universal health coverage. Chiefly, it asked that signatories, 1. Make bold political choices for health across all sectors, 2. Build sustainable primary health care by implementing programs in accordance with national legislation, contexts and priorities, 3. Empower individuals and communities and 4. Align stakeholder support to national policies, strategies and plans. These goals were made with the vision of ‘leaving no one behind’.
This was a particularly special conference for me to attend as the Declaration of Alma Ata was the inspiration behind my PhD. My PhD looks at primary health care delivery in humanitarian emergencies. Being at the conference was a fantastic opportunity to meet with like-minded health professionals from all over the globe and to be re-invigorated in achieving our common goal of advancing primary health care.