The official opening ceremony of the Global Conference on Primary Health Care (PHC) took place in Astana on October 23. This event marked the 45th anniversary of the Alma-Ata Declaration on PHC, the 5th anniversary of the Astana Declaration on PHC, and the 75th anniversary of World Health Organization (WHO). The Head of State, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, graced the occasion.

The international conference, themed “Policy and Practice in Primary Health Care: Striving for High Results,” saw participation from over 70 delegations of WHO Member States. The Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan organized the event, with support from the WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Kazakhstan’s President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, warmly greeted the attendees of this milestone forum. He extended his gratitude to the Director of the World Health Organization, Tedros Ghebreyesus, esteemed scientist and academician Toregeldy Sharmanov, and all the international experts present.

“From the bottom of my heart, I congratulate everyone on the start of the global conference. This is an important and significant event. Experts from over 70 countries have gathered today in the center of Astana. This corresponds to the status of the global conference,” remarked President Tokayev.

“45 years ago, the historic Alma-Ata Declaration was adopted, which laid the foundation for a socially just model of primary health care. This declaration became the Great Charter of World Health Care and inspired many countries to take measures to improve people’s health, recognizing it as a fundamental human right. The Alma-Ata Declaration has played a crucial role in systematically reducing maternal and infant mortality rates and increasing life expectancy in many countries. Today, many states of the world have established national healthcare systems that place special emphasis on primary health care. This is confirmed by the Astana Declaration signed five years ago,” said the President of Kazakhstan.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev underscored the pivotal role of the primary health care system in identifying early indicators of epidemics and navigating unexpected challenges. “It’s imperative to assess all potential risks and maintain the health care system in perpetual preparedness,” he stated.

Additionally, Tokayev took a moment to elaborate on the initiatives in place to bolster the health care system within the nation.

“The entire child population of the country is covered by preventive medical examinations. There are youth health centers in almost every major settlement. About three million adults go through the program of screening and professional examinations every year. To ensure that rural residents have equal opportunities to receive medical services, we have implemented a number of reforms. As a result, since 2018, the number of primary care points for rural areas has more than tripled. Along with this, digital technologies such as telemedicine and remote monitoring are being actively introduced, which significantly increase the availability of primary health care,” Tokayev emphasized.

In his closing remarks, the President put forward a proposal, backed by WHO, to form a Coalition of Countries on Primary Health Care. This collaborative effort aims to advance the principles of prevention and health preservation while fostering collective recommendations for the enhancement of primary health care.

During the conference, the President emphasized the shared commitment of all nations to enhance the health and overall well-being of global populations. He stressed that to achieve this objective, collaboration is essential.

“Taking advantage of the presence of the head of the WHO, perhaps the global provision of primary healthcare would benefit from a dedicated structure to coordinate activities. I propose, with the support of the WHO, to establish a coalition of countries to deliver PHC. The main task of this coalition should be to further promote preventive health care, and to make joint recommendations for the development of PHC. I look forward to today’s final statement by the young delegates on policy and practice in PHC. And I am confident that this statement will reflect the vision of young people on this topic,” said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, addressed the Global Conference and lauded the remarkable advancements in Kazakhstan’s healthcare system over the past decade. He noted that Kazakhstan has substantially enhanced its metrics for healthcare quality and accessibility, ascending from the 39th to the 72nd position and doubling its achievements.

Furthermore, he expressed pride in Kazakhstan, the birthplace of two momentous declarations on primary health care, for its unwavering dedication to universal health coverage and the tangible strides taken in that direction.