What is the Alma-Ata declaration?

In September 1978, the International Conference on Primary Health Care was held in Alma-Ata, USSR (now Almaty, Kazakhstan). The Declaration of Alma-Ata, co-sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), is a brief document that expresses "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 the people of the world." It was the first international declaration stating the importance of primary health care and outlining the world governments' role and responsibilities to the health of the world's citizens.

The Declaration of Alma-Ata begins by stating that health, "which is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, is a fundamental human right and that the attainment of the highest possible level of health is a most important world-wide social goal . . . " It goes on to call for all governments, regardless of politics and conflicts, to work together toward global health. These are still some of the fundamental tenets that guide the work of the WHO today.

Those who ratified the Declaration of Alma-Ata hoped that it would be the first step toward achieving health for all by the year 2000. Although that goal was not achieved, the Declaration of Alma-Ata still stands as an outline for the future of international healthcare.

You can read the text of the Declaration of Alma-Ata at the World Health Organization's Web site.