What became of the Alma Ata Declaration and Health for All by 2000?

A Health Poverty Action photo.

By James William Mugeni

  • The Declaration by Nations: “Health for All by year 2000” couldn’t be truer than now.

Editor, 42 years ago to be specific, world leaders met in Kazakhstan Russia and came up with what is called the Alma Ata Declaration: Health for All by the year 2000.

According to Wikipedia, “The Declaration of Alma-Ata was adopted at the International Conference on Primary Health Care in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on 6–12 September 1978. It expressed the need for urgent action by all governments, all health and development workers, and the world community to protect and promote the health of all people. It was the first international declaration underlining the importance of primary health care”.

James William Mugeni is currently based in the U.S

The declaration put Primary Health Care (PHC) at the center and made it the key to achieving “Health for All.” It was first adopted by developing countries; the developed countries followed later. The Alma-Ata Declaration of 1978 became  “major milestone of the twentieth century in the field of public health” and it “identified PHC as the key to the attainment of the goal of “Health for All” around the globe”.

  • The Conference strongly reaffirmed that health, “was a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” It also affirmed that health was a “fundamental human right” whose highest level of attainment required a multi-sectoral approach. This has since been abused by every nation.
  • “The existing gross inequality in the health status of the people, particularly between developed and developing countries as well as within countries, is “politically, socially, and economically unacceptable” and is, therefore, of common concern to all countries. Again, no country on earth has addressed this as the elite class created a health club exclusive of the poor. 
  • “The people have a right and duty to participate individually and collectively in the planning and implementation of their health care”. Most countries have not done this as most countries give hospitals as political handouts: Obamacare and other examples. 
  • “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 of both 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.” Dream yet to come true.
  • “An acceptable level of health for all the people of the world by the year 2000 was to be attained through a fuller and better use of the world’s resources, a considerable part of which is now spent on armaments and military conflicts.

A genuine policy of independence, peace, détente, and disarmament could and should release additional resources that could well be devoted to peaceful aims and in particular to the acceleration of social and economic development of which primary health care, as an essential part, should be allotted its proper share.” Very shameful not knowing what to do. Most countries are responding to a virus not with health workers on the streets but armed personnel a total mismatch. No gun can shoot the virus, making man look absolutely stupid.

Alma Ata Declaration

COVID-19, coming 20 years after 2000, the year when we were all supposed to have attained a high level of health, threatens the entire globe due to the obvious mistakes of not being true to the agreements we made. COVID -19 requires that we all have in our countries what we promised to do by the year 2000. We lied to ourselves and now as each nation braces for the worst no country seems to have an economy that can address the pandemic.

The wealthy nations that hold the strings of the purse have built systems that had nothing to deal with the common person. Politicians across the divide, be it from Africa or not, connived with wealthy nations and formed health clubs. Leaders bought presidential jets that fly out the presidents and their elites to hospitals for exclusive classes at the expense of the masses. 

Hospitals without gloves, hospitals without beds, hospitals without health workers, hospitals without ventilators, hospitals without Personal protective equipment (PPE) protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury or infection is all you hear from all the nations.

Diseases after diseases have exposed mankind’s failure to honor agreements. We still have HIV/AIDS that started in the 90s man managed only to change it from a Pandemic to an epidemic. HIV/AIDS still has a worldwide occurrence and cripples many economies for shear poor planning within nations.

More agreements have followed the Alma Ata, there was the water and sanitation decade, we had the millennium development goals MDGs of the 90s, the 2000s have seen the sustainable development goals SDGs all having the elite class flying out to conferences across the globe in deceitful clubs. 

The COVID -19 now has every country under check as we do body counts country after country. Can we make reflections on the many lies we have made especially the elite class that a small virus which requires basics of hygiene now have all of us under lock. It is high time everyone in their own countries to asked themselves if we were given another chance what would we genuinely do with the resources we have?

The author is a Certified Public Manager/Medical Clinical Officer.

Email: wmungadi@gmail.com  

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