Bhutan adopts As­tana Dec­la­ra­tion for bet­ter pri­mary health care

Bhutan Times - - Home - Staff Re­porter

Bhutan joined the global com­mu­nity in adopt­ing the As­tana Dec­la­ra­tion on pri­mary health care dur­ing the global con­fer­ence on pri­mary health­care, from Alma-Ata to­wards uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals (SDGs) on Oc­to­ber 25 at As­tana, Kaza­khstan.

The two-mem­ber del­e­ga­tion led by health sec­re­tary, Dr. Ugen Do­phun at­tended the con­fer­ence.

Coun­tries around the world agreed to the dec­la­ra­tion of As­tana, vow­ing to strengthen their pri­mary health care sys­tems as an essen­tial step to­ward achiev­ing uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age.

The dec­la­ra­tion of As­tana comes amid a grow­ing global move­ment for greater in­vest­ment in pri­mary health care to achieve uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age. Health re­sources have been over­whelm­ingly fo­cused on sin­gle dis­ease in­ter­ven­tions rather than strong, com­pre­hen­sive health sys­tems, a gap high­lighted by sev­eral health emer­gen­cies in re­cent years.

The new dec­la­ra­tion will re­new po­lit­i­cal com­mit­ment to pri­mary health care from gov­ern­ments, non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions, pro­fes­sional or­ga­ni­za­tions, academia, global health, and de­vel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions. The dec­la­ra­tion will be used to in­form the United Na­tion Gen­eral As­sem­bly high-level meet­ing on Uni­ver­sal Health Cov­er­age in 2019.

The new dec­la­ra­tion is also to com­mem­o­rate the 1978 Alma-Ata dec­la­ra­tion on pri­mary health care, and re­flect on how far we have come over the last 40 years and the work that still lies ahead.

The pri­mary health care ap­proach is foun­da­tional to achiev­ing shared global goals in uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age and the health-re­lated SDGs.

Be­sides the re­newal of com­mit­ment, the con­fer­ence also brought to­gether health min­is­ters, ex­perts from across the globe from all key stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing youth par­tic­i­pants to dis­cuss on role of govern­ment ap­proach to ad­vanc­ing pri­mary health care to­wards uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age con­sid­er­ing health is a state responsibility.

The con­fer­ence also dis­cussed on re­vi­tal­iz­ing pri­mary health care for the 21st cen­tury to achieve uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age, the fu­ture of pri­mary health care, driv­ing eq­uity through pri­mary health care, ad­dress­ing health needs through pri­mary health care as health is a ba­sic hu­man right, pri­mary health care to­wards uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals.

“To­day, in­stead of health for all, we have health for some,” said di­rec­tor gen­eral, World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, Dr. Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus. “We all have a solemn responsibility to en­sure that to­day's dec­la­ra­tion on pri­mary health care en­ables ev­ery per­son, ev­ery­where to ex­er­cise their fun­da­men­tal right to health.”

“Although the world is a health­ier place for chil­dren to­day than ever be­fore, close to 6 mil­lion chil­dren die ev­ery year be­fore their fifth birth­day mostly from pre­ventable causes, and more than 150 mil­lion are stunted,” said ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, UNICEF, Hen­ri­etta Fore. “We as a global com­mu­nity can change that, by bring­ing qual­ity health ser­vices close to those who need them. That's what pri­mary health care is about.”

“Adop­tion of the dec­la­ra­tion at this global con­fer­ence in As­tana will set new di­rec­tions for the de­vel­op­ment of pri­mary health care as a ba­sis of health care sys­tems,” said health min­is­ter, Repub­lic of Kaza­khstan, Yelzhan Bir­tanov. “The new dec­la­ra­tion re­flects obli­ga­tions of coun­tries, peo­ple, com­mu­ni­ties, health care sys­tems and part­ners to achieve health­ier lives through sus­tain­able pri­mary health care.”

The dec­la­ra­tion of As­tana reaf­firms the his­toric 1978 Dec­la­ra­tion of Alma-Ata, the first time world lead­ers com­mit­ted to pri­mary health care.

While the 1978 dec­la­ra­tion of Alma-Ata laid a foun­da­tion for pri­mary health care, progress over the past four decades has been un­even. At least half the world's pop­u­la­tion lacks ac­cess to essen­tial health ser­vices in­clud­ing care for non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble and com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases, ma­ter­nal and child health, men­tal health, and sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health.

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