An extension of the alma-ata vision for primary health care in light of twenty-first century evidence and realities

Henry B. Perry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This paper builds upon and extends the definition of primary health care in the 1978 Declaration of Alma-Ata. The definition proposes a stronger role for community-based delivery of services and community mobilization, participation and empowerment. It calls for a stronger integration with vertical, disease-specific programs. And, finally, it calls for a strong role for certain curative services (including basic and essential surgery) that many today would not consider as part of primary health care. There is growing evidence that communities can and should play a stronger role than has traditionally been the case, that community-level workers who are properly trained and supported can provide effective services outside of health facilities, and that primary health centers staffed with non-specialist physicians and even non-physician clinicians can perform many of the lower-level inpatient services now performed at first-level referral hospitals. An approach to primary health care that is appropriate to the local context and that merges local epidemiological priorities with the communities' perceived priorities will make it possible to engage communities as partners. Currently, essential and basic health care services are available to only one-half of the world’s population. The full development of primary health care as envisioned here will accelerate progress in achieving Health for All as envisioned at the International Conference on Primary Health Care in 1978.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number70
JournalGates Open Research
StatePublished - 2018


  • Community health
  • Community-based primary health care
  • Primary heath care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Immunology and Microbiology (miscellaneous)


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