It has been 45 years since the landmark 1978 Alma-Ata Declaration, which defined Primary Health Care (PHC) as “essential healthcare 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.”
The goal of PHC is to provide better health services for all, making it an integral part of a country’s health system and the central function for the community’s overall social and economic development. The aim is to achieve the highest possible level of health and well-being, ensuring equitable distribution and a sustainable healthy life without financial burden on patients.
Despite the promulgation of the PHC agenda after the Alma-Ata Declaration, its actualization has remained elusive. The declaration outlined eight key elements and four pillars necessary to support the actualization of the vision of improved health outcomes for the population. The eight elements include (1) Health education; (2) Nutritional promotion including food supply; (3) Supply of adequate safe water and sanitation; (4) Maternal and child health care; (5) Immunization against major infectious diseases; (6) Prevention and control of endemic diseases; (7) Appropriate treatment of common diseases and injuries; and (8) Provision of essential drugs. The four pillars emphasized Community Participation, Inter-sectoral Coordination, Appropriate Technology, and the availability of Support Mechanism. Additional declarations such as the Abuja Declaration, Maputo Declaration, Ouagadougou Declaration and Bamako Declaration have also been made.
These notwithstanding, the PHC agenda is yet to be fully realized, and the scientific foundation of PHC requires further examination. The implementation of PHC in Africa could be more impactful if it is based on evidence that is contextualized. Much of the researches that inform PHC is not Africa-led, and even when evidence is generated within Africa, its translation to programs and policy remains dismal. In light of these challenges, Amref International University together with its research partners from Africa and beyond have convened to deliberate on the extent to which PHC practices in Africa are evidence-based and to share recent evidence that can enhance PHC practice.
Congress theme: Aligning practice to evidence in strengthening PHC for lasting health change in Africa
- Amref International University Main Campus, Langata Road, Nairobi