On October 25 and 26, over 114 ministries of health as well as representatives of civil society convened at the Global Conference on Primary Health Care in Astana, Kazakhstan, to renew a commitment to primary health care to achieve universal health coverage and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Co-hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, the conference marked the 40th anniversary of the Alma-Ata Declaration, which formed the foundation for the last 40 years of global primary health care efforts.
The new Declaration of Astana, reaffirms the critical role of primary health care in ensuring that everyone everywhere is able to enjoy the highest possible attainable standard of health. It also renews political commitment to primary health care from governments, non-governmental organizations, professional organizations, academia and global health and development organizations.
To prepare for the implementation of the Astana Declaration, faculty from the department of international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health convened the Alma-Ata 40 Roundtable, a group of leading policymakers and scholars, to capture best practices and lessons learned from the past 40 years of primary health care. The group’s ultimate aim was to ensure that the ideals of Alma-Ata, which helped improve life expectancy and decrease mortality globally, continue to be available and help contribute to better health for all.
The group’s recommendations and guidance were published in Health Affairs on October 25, under the title, “Implementing The Astana Declaration — What Alma-Ata Taught Us”. The Roundtable was chaired by Dr. David Bishai, a professor of population, family and reproductive health; health, behavior and society; and international health at the Bloomberg School.