COMING UP – Is rehabilitation part of primary health care? The question no one should ask any longer – Astana conference and beyond

Posted by: on Oct 25, 2018 | No Comments

On 25-26 October 2018, the global public health community will come together at the Global Conference on Primary Health Care, in Astana, Kazakhstan, to reaffirm a commitment to developing people-centred primary health care, building on the principles of the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1978.

What happens in Astana?

The Conference in Astana takes place on the 40th anniversary of the Declaration of Alma-Ata, which was ground-breaking in uniting health leaders behind the importance of primary health care as key to delivering better health for all. There, rehabilitative services were included in the Alma-Ata Declaration, as a component of primary health care.

At the follow-up Conference in Astana, global leaders will adopt a new Declaration, to recommit to strengthening primary health care to achieve universal health coverage in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.

What are the challenges at stake?

40 years after the Declaration of Alma-Ata, primary health care is underdeveloped in many countries, underfunded in others, and facing a severe workforce recruitment and retention challenge. Half the world’s population has no access to the most essential health services.

Despite the existence of successful models of integration, in the vast majority of health systems (especially in developing countries) rehabilitation has not been fully or effectively integrated into primary care. Rehabilitative services are still little understood by the health sector and often perceived as a ‘luxury’ service in contexts where even the most basic health services are lacking.

If rehabilitation is fully recognized and effectively integrated in primary health care, it will be then a key component of the package of care services under universal health coverage. Universal health coverage ensures that all people can use the preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, without being exposed to financial hardship. Sustainable Development Goal’s target 3.8 aims to achieve universal health coverage for all, by 2030.

What are the opportunities for HI?

HI has participated in this process – and Davide Olchini, Director for Prevention and Health, will be in present at the Conference in Astana- to continue leveraging the inclusion of persons with disabilities and universal access to rehabilitation services to the attention of decision-makers. Based on HI’s extensive experience in rehabilitation, we urge global decision-makers to reaffirm the role of rehabilitation as an essential element of the “continuum of care” within a health system that goes beyond prevention, diagnosis or treatment of illness but also includes care and support, participation and quality of life.

The Sustainable Development Goals provide new impetus to reach universal health coverage via strengthened primary health care. Astana is only the first important step in this direction. In September 2019, a High-level meeting on universal health coverage will take place at the United Nations General Assembly.

HI will continue advocating for greater recognition of rehabilitation services within the global health agenda  and the integration of rehabilitation in primary health care, towards the realization of truly universal health services across the continuum of care.

WHO GIF Astana Conference on Primary Health Care 2018