30 years after Alma Ata

The future of Community Health

The Swiss Health Cooperation Symposium

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<p align="justify"><b>The Declaration of Alma Ata and the concept of primary health care that
it propagates are a key point of reference for all Swiss organizations working
in healthcare provision. The seventh Swiss Health Cooperation Symposium organized
by Medicus Mundi Switzerland will be focusing on the question of what impact
the Declaration of Alma Ata has had on community health projects and what the
future is for community health. </b></p>
<p><b><img src="../../../../images/Symposium2008_SRK_Indien.jpg" width="492" height="329"></b></p>
<p>Community Health, India (Picture: Peter Eppler / Copyright: SRC)</p>
<h2 align="justify"><b>The topic</font></b></h2>
<p align="justify">The International Conference on Primary Health Care (PHC) held
in Alma Ata thirty years ago was a pioneering event. The Declaration adopted
at the Conference advocated a comprehensive approach that defined health not
only in medical terms but in the all-embracing sense of social and cultural
<p align="justify">Alma Ata established principles for international health cooperation
that postulated health as a basic human right to which everyone is entitled.
The international political community, notably the World Bank, soon began to
question the primary health care approach on which community health projects
were based, proposing vertically structured selective programmes in its place.
However, the PHC concept lived on in many community health projects.</p>
<p align="justify"><b>Putting community health at the centre</b></p>
<p align="justify">The PHC concept developed at the Alma Ata Conference propagates
the idea of communities as the key social unit in achieving health for all.
This is because health care has to be taken as close as possible to where people
live and work. This idea and approach are still the hallmarks of many international
health cooperation projects. </p>
<p align="justify">However the selective approach on which global programmes are
based a raises the question of whether such programmes are slowing down the
development of community health. Some of these programmes are certainly both
successful and necessary. Nevertheless, the lower prestige of grass-roots healthcare
provision outside centres of economic activity and health programmes set up
by financially well endowed global foundations has encouraged migration of well
trained healthcare professionals. Grass-roots healthcare facilities are often
particularly hard hit by the global shortage of professionals. </p>
<p align="justify"><b>Experience sharing and debates</b></p>
<p align="justify">Swiss and international experts will be debating the future
of community health with development cooperation stakeholders and the broader
public. What experience gained in community health projects set up after Alma
Ata can be incorporated into future projects? What status do the principles
of community health and the principles adopted in Alma Ata have in international
health policy? How do new players such as the various global health programmes
regard them? What is their significance for Switzerland's health foreign policy?</p>
<h2 align="justify"><b>The Swiss Health Cooperation Symposium</b></h2>
<p align="justify"> <b>Discussing international cooperation and development policy.
</b>The Swiss Health Cooperation Symposium targets a broad spectrum of participants
active at the na-tional or international level and is organized by Medicus Mundi
Switzerland, Network Health for All, which comprises 46 Swiss agencies operating
in the field of international health cooperation. The symposium is part of a
long-term cooperation agreement with the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation
SDC, which helps fund the event and provides support with the programming.<br>
<p><b> </b> <b>Contact:</b> Martin Leschhorn Strebel, <a href="mailto:mleschhorn@medicusmundi.ch">
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