WHO opens office on primary health care in Kazakhstan

Photo: Serguei Gurzhin

Regional Director Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab and President of the Kazakh Academy of Nutrition Prof Torgeldy Sharmanov inaugurate the new centre of excellence.

WHO officially inaugurated a new centre for excellence in primary health care in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on 11 February 2015. The centre will ensure that WHO/Europe is well equipped to support countries in revitalizing primary health care.  Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, and Dr Salidat Kairbekova, First Vice-Minister of Health and Social Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan, took part in the opening ceremony.

Speaking of the importance of primary health care, Dr Jakab said, “The conditions for achieving the Region’s greatest health potential, as set out in Health 2020, include strong leadership to take on the complexities of systems and bring their parts into alignment, while managers face the equally difficult challenge of bringing about people-centred services in the day-to-day functioning of service provision.”

Dr Jakab thanked the Government of Kazakhstan for its global commitment to the primary-health-care approach, as well as undertaking reforms in the country. Kazakhstan has a long history of promoting primary health care, dating back to the Declaration of Alma-Ata in 1978, which called for urgent national and international action to protect and promote the health of all.

Specifically, the new centre will:

  • bring together knowledge to expand the evidence base on the delivery of health services;
  • support countries through experience and technical know-how in strengthening service delivery;
  • advance policy options, mechanisms and tools for priority action to transform services; and
  • build synergies with global health initiatives, foster partnerships with leading academic institutions and think-tanks, and work with development partners.

Four-day visit to Kazakhstan

In addition to the inauguration of the new centre, highlights of Dr Jakab’s four-day visit to Kazakhstan include:

  • discussions with high-level officials (including representatives of the President’s Office and the Government, and the mayors of Almaty and Astana), Kazakh health workers and representatives of other United Nations agencies working in the country; and
  • participation in a senior policy seminar on transforming health-service delivery in Kazakhstan, focusing on key developments in primary health care in 2016–2020.

Definition of primary health care

Primary health care is health care received in the community, usually from family doctors, community nurses, staff in local clinics or other health professionals. It should be universally accessible to individuals and families by means acceptable to them, with their full participation and at a cost that the community and country can afford.