by Stefan Wythes, ACN Policy Officer


On 12 September, ACN Policy staff attended a symposium hosted by the Australian National University (ANU) and organised by the Southgate Institute for Health, Society & Equity based at Flinders University in South Australia. The symposium gave participants the chance to hear from international and Australian experts on primary health care (PHC) policies and practices as well as learn about key findings from the latest PHC research projects.


In 1978, World Health Organization members in conjunction with health experts endorsed the Alma-Ata Declaration, which presented a vision for primary health care that sought to make health services multidisciplinary with an emphasis on disease prevention and health promotion. The Declaration was a significant public health achievement and sought to cement PHC as the key to the attainment of the goal of Health for All.[1]


Below is an excerpt 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 elements of a continuing health care process.’[2]

On 25-26 October 2018, the Global Conference on Primary Health Care in Astana, Kazakhstan will seek to endorse a new declaration promoting the importance of primary health care around the world. The WHO argues that PHC is ‘the most effective way to sustainably solve today’s health and health system challenges’ … [as well as meeting] global goals in Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).’[3]


Individuals and organisations can show their support for the new declaration by visiting the WHO website and navigating to the Global Conference on Primary Health Care page. It is worth remembering that ‘the vast majority of a person’s health needs across their lifetime can be covered by primary health care’.[4]



[1] World Health Organization 2018, Social determinants of health. WHO called to return to the Declaration of Alma-Ata, <>.

[2] World Health Organization 2018, Social determinants of health. WHO called to return to the Declaration of Alma-Ata, <>.

[3] World Health Organization 2018, Declaration on Primary Health Care. Astana, 2018, <>.

[4] World Health Organization 2018, Global Conference on Primary Health Care. 25-26 October 2018 – Astana, Kazakhstan, <>.

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