Bhutan adopts Astana Declaration for better primary health care
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.