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Reaching the most vulnerable children through innovative primary healthcare

ALMATY, Kazakhstan, 8 November 2013 — Primary Health Care remains the central element of our efforts in achieving the MDGs and a cornerstone of the post-2015 agenda, UNICEF has said as the two-day conference celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the Almaty Declaration on Primary Health Care concludes its work.

At the global conference, the Director of UNICEF Programmes Nicholas Alipui said that Primary Health Care systems should be equity-based, people-focused and inter-sectoral in order to accelerate progress to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and the ‘A Promise Renewed’ target.

“Reduction in the equity gap in health should become the most important measure of our success, particularly as we move into the post-2015 era. This is my appeal to you – a renewal of the appeal launched in Almaty in 1978. An appeal that should finally become a reality” – said Mr.Alipui.

Primary health care is central to an enormous global effort to reduce child mortality, with more than 90 million children able to survive often due to the efforts of primary health care in delivering low-cost and highly effective solutions.

Without faster progress focusing on the most in need, the world will not meet its child survival goal or Millennium Development Goal 4 until 2028 — 13 years after the deadline — and 35 million children will die during this period.

“Inequities between and among countries are striking, depending on where a child is born,” he said at the conference held on 6-8 November. He pointed to Luxembourg where the under-5 mortality rate is just two deaths per 1,000 live births, to Sierra Leone, where it soars to 182. Even in countries that have made progress, we often see growing inequities.

This is why the ‘A Promise Renewed’ initiative calls to keep the promise to millions of children aiming at achieving the target of 20 or fewer deaths per 1,000 live births by 2035.

Mr Alipui added: “The early years, from conception through early childhood, are critical for lifelong health and well-being. This is when the major investments in human capital are made.”

Studies have shown that a primary health care, which promotes responsive and nurturing parenting, has the best chance to reach families at health facilities and in their homes. A key aspect is that other services such as social workers, child protection specialists, child development and education specialists, public health and mental health systems are closely integrated to address specific risks.

Kazakhstan is on track to achieve Goal 4 on child mortality with a 65 per cent reduction from 1990. While noting the achievements, the Health Minister of Kazakhstan Salidat Kairbekova acknowledged that new global challenges have arisen. “Our joint efforts will help to hit the right path to achieve social justice and create healthy settings,” she said. 

“This Conference will encourage countries in their efforts towards universal health coverage with primary health care at the core of people-centred services delivery,” Regional Director of WHO Europe Zsuzsanna Jakab said.

In 1978, the World Health Organization and UNICEF jointly hosted a conference in Kazakhstan that resulted in the Alma-Ata Declaration, in which primary health care was defined by leaders as ensuring that everyone, regardless of where they lived, whether rich or poor, was able to access services and conditions necessary for realizing the best possible health.

 

 
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