Primary Healthcare at 40 – What has changed since Alma Ata Declaration of 1978? Part I

Primary Healthcare (PHC) as a powerful concept was conceptualized as Alma Ata Declaration of 1978 which set out a global agenda “Health for All”

It is 40 years since the major milestone of 20th century in the field of public health – while everybody is busy predicting what will happen in 2030, I for a change decided to take a stock of what has been done in the past forty years!

Is Primary Healthcare an Utopia?

Guess, it is… because the Oxford Dictionary defines “Utopia”as “an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect” I am sure all of you would AGREE that by no means, in any part of the world have we achieved perfection in Primary Healthcare [with the below key salient features of the WHO global agenda (Health for All)]

  1. Health should be seen as right for all, not just a privilege for the few
  2. Ensuring equitable access was a prime responsibility of all states
  3. The causes of ill-health goes beyond the biomedical factors and has many other socio-economic-political determinants

So, was the global agenda or goal-setting itself wrong or misplaced in the first place? It is a sincere attempt to discover – why Primary Healthcare has not caught enough attention, adoption unlike the hospital-based care through a series of blogs, with focus on PHC in South East Asia region.

While you can find the details of the Alma Ata Declaration (click here to find a pdf copy) – below is the key definition of Primary Healthcare and its 7 key points (excerpts from the declaration):

“Primary health care is essential health care based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible to individuals and families in the community through their full participation and at a cost that the community and country can afford to maintain at every stage of their development in the spirit of self-reliance and self-determination. It forms an integral part both of the country’s health system, of which it is the central function and main focus, and of the overall social and economic development of the community. It is the first level of contact of individuals, the family and community with the national health system bringing health care as close as possible to where people live and work, and constitutes the first element of a continuing health care process”

In the next series of blogs – lets examine how PHC has progressed in economically developed countries vs developing countries compared to the Hospital Care.

#PrimaryHealthcare #HealthforAll

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