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The International Conference on Primary Health Care (ICPH 2023) in Addis Ababa (5-7 Sept)

The International Conference on Primary Health Care (ICPH 2023) in Addis Ababa (5-7 Sept)

By Anteneh Zewdie
on September 1, 2023

Resilient PHC: The Foundation of UHC in the SDG era

In the 2018 Declaration of Astana, the global health community renewed its commitments to sustainable Primary Health Care (PHC) and Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Five years later, it feels like an opportune moment to review the strides made since then, as well as the challenges faced on the journey. On September 5-7, the International Institute for Primary Health Care, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health organizes an International Conference on Primary Health Care 2023 (ICPHC2023) at the Skylight Hotel in Addis.

The overall goal of the conference is to facilitate the attainment of UHC and the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by strengthening the PHC movement globally. Hence the theme, “Resilient PHC: The Foundation of UHC in the SDG era”.

More in particular, the conference aims to: (1) strengthen multisectoral collaboration by providing a forum to share knowledge and best practices in PHC; (2) promote and enhance PHC champions to amplify their impact; (3) strengthen the resilience of PHC systems based on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 response; and (4) create an agenda to strengthen and build PHC around the globe.

The conference will focus on the following sub-themes sourced from the Declaration of Astana:

1. Making bold political choices for health across all sectors: A whole-of-government approach is crucial for ensuring equitable access to quality PHC. The conference aims to explore leadership and governance in PHC and involve various stakeholders such as planners, providers, donors, users and communities. Discussions will include the power dynamics between Ministries of Health and donors in health sector reform, as well as challenges in implementing PHC in conflict-affected areas.

2. Building sustainable Primary Health Care: Primary health care systems need to adapt sustainably to the changing global landscape. Efforts have focused on capacity building, strengthening supply chains, and integrating vertical programs in PHC. Digital technologies have emerged as crucial tools for sustainable, high-quality, and safe PHC. Country experiences in moving towards comprehensive and sustainable PHC will also be featured.

3. Empowering individuals and communities: The rights and protection of PHC workers, equity, gender concerns, and the involvement of young people in the sector will be addressed. The conference will explore effective methods of recruitment, training, and retention of Community Health Workers (CHWs), as well as ways to engage and empower communities in PHC.

4. Aligning stakeholder support with national policies, strategies, and plans: The conference will focus on the challenges of PHC financing, including limited public funding, fragmented financing mechanisms, and a lack of financial incentives for PHC providers. It aims to explore how stakeholders can align their support with national policies to improve health outcomes.

The conference will provide a platform for country representatives to share experiences and lessons that can guide the implementation of effective PHC financing in order to help achieve UHC and improve health outcomes. ICPH2023 will also provide networking opportunities for different actors in PHC, facilitate and promote knowledge and experience sharing, increase commitment to PHC, align stakeholder support to national strategies, and enhance preparedness to prevent, detect and respond to public health emergencies.

In short, the objectives of the ICPH2023 are fully in line with the 2019 Political Declaration of the High-Level meeting on UHC. In addition, ICPH2023 is also a milestone in the final weeks before this year’s  UN General Assembly High-Level Meetings on health, which present a historic opportunity to place health back on the high-level political agenda.

Progress towards UHC, health security, TB (or any other global health cause) requires strengthening resilient and equitable health systems, with PHC as a foundation, everywhere in the world.

Skylight Hotel, Addis Ababa Ethiopia

About Anteneh Zewdie

The International Institute for Primary Health care, Ethiopia & School of Public Health, the University of Queensland, Australia

About Yibeltal Assefa

School of Public Health, the University of Queensland, Australia
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