Tuesday, October 14, 2008, the World Health Report 2008 was released by the World Health Organization. The report – titled “Primary Health Care: Now More Than Ever” – assesses the progress of the Primary Health Care movement established 30 years ago at the Alma-Ata Conference. According to the report, the reduction in child health mortality rates since the 1978 conference has meant that 18,329 lives are saved every day, showing that “progress is possible.”
Yet, the report’s authors argue that inequities and imbalances make the return to a primary health care focus important at this time. The report notes the growing variation in how people experience health outcomes, access to care and the cost of health services within and between countries as evidence that “left to their own devices, health systems do not gravitate naturally towards the goals of health for all through primary health care as articulated in the Declaration of Alma Alta,” according to Director-General Margaret Chan. The WHO outlines a set of proposed reforms for Primary Health Care under the four broad categories of universal coverage, service delivery, public policy and leadership. The report stresses that unique differences in each country’s situation must be taken into account when adapting this set of reform recommendations on primary health care.