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International Health

October 29, 2018

Johns Hopkins faculty convene roundtable, publish guidance on implementing the Astana Declaration

On October 25 and 26, over 114 ministries of health as well as representatives of civil society convened at the Global Conference on Primary Health Care in Astana, Kazakhstan, to renew a commitment to primary health care to achieve universal health coverage and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Co-hosted by WHO and UNICEF, the conference marked the 40th anniversary of the Alma-Ata Declaration, which formed the foundation for the last 40 years of global primary health care efforts.

Hopkins Delegates at the Astana Conference
Alma-Ata 40 Roundtable members and delegates
to the Astana Conference, from left to right: Professor Bill Brieger,
Associate Meike Schleiff and Professor David Bishai

The new Declaration of Astana, reaffirms the critical role of primary health care in ensuring that everyone everywhere is able to enjoy the highest possible attainable standard of health. It also renews political commitment to primary health care from governments, non-governmental organizations, professional organizations, academia and global health and development organizations. 

To prepare for the implementation of the Astana Declaration, faculty from the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health convened the Alma-Ata 40 Roundtable, a group of leading policymakers and scholars, to capture best practices and lessons learned from the past 40 years of primary health care. The group’s ultimate aim was to ensure that the ideals of Alma-Ata, which helped improve life expectancy and decrease mortality globally, continue to be available and help contribute to better health for all. The group’s recommendations and guidance were published in Health Affairs on October 25, under the title, Implementing The Astana Declaration—What Alma-Ata Taught Us. The Roundtable was chaired by David Bishai, a professor of Population, Family and Reproductive Health; Health, Behavior and Society; and International Health at the Bloomberg School.

Among the group’s recommendations, the Alma-Ata Roundtable authors stress three overarching principles that should not be overlooked while pursuing the world’s commitment to universal health coverage, reaffirmed by the Astana Declaration:

  • Include people in designing and controlling health systems
  • Integrate action across sectors
  • Protect everybody, especially the most vulnerable 

The complete Alma-Ata Roundtable 40 recommendations and lessons learned are available at Health Affairs. 

The Alma-Ata 40 Roundtable, a group of policymakers and scholars who met on Sept 12, 2018, to recognize the 40th Anniversary of the Alma-Ata Declaration and assess its impact and current relevance. Members include: Kedar Baral Patan, Academy of Health Sciences; David Bishai, Johns Hopkins University; William Brieger, Johns Hopkins University; Dennis Cherian, World Vision; Anbarasi Edward, Johns Hopkins University; Laurel Hatt, R4D; Adnan Hyder, George Washington University; Nikita Japra, Rockefeller Foundation; Jean Kagubare, Gates Foundation; Alice Kuan, Johns Hopkins University; Katey Linskey, Last Mile Health; Melanie Morrow, MCSP; Edgar Necochea, JHPIEGO; George Pariyo, Johns Hopkins University; Henry Perry, Johns Hopkins University; David Peters, Johns Hopkins University; Susan Rifkin, University of Colorado; Oying Rimon, Gates Institute; Meike Schleiff, Johns Hopkins University; Eric Sarriot, Save the Children;  Ria Shah, Johns Hopkins University; Henry Taylor, Johns Hopkins University; Daniel Taylor, Future Generations University; and Rita Thapa Bhaskar, Memorial Foundation.