Innovative approaches to integrated primary health care conference in Kazakhstan


On 7 December 2016, a national conference took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan, to reflect on possible organizational models of primary health care (PHC) in the country. The event also served as a platform to discuss lessons emerged from implementing innovative approaches to strengthening PHC in the WHO European Region, and to showcase first-hand experience in Kazakhstan.

The conference was chaired by the Vice Minister of Health and Social Development of Kazakhstan, Dr Alexey Tsoy, who emphasized the vision of patient-centred health services based on PHC.  Professor Turgeldy S. Sharmanov, minister of health in 1978, when the Declaration of Alma-Ata was adopted and currently the President of the Kazakh Academy of Nutrition, welcomed the event. The event was hosted by Kazakh National Medical University and sponsored by the Almaty Health Department. It brought together officials from the Ministry of Health and Social Development, oblast health department delegates from across Kazakhstan, health facility managers, health officials from the neighbouring countries of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, international experts from across Europe, and representatives of development partners including the United Nations Children’s Fund and the United Nations Population Fund.

Integrating services into PHC improve access to health care and contribute to sustainable development is one of the priorities of the National Programme of Health Development “Densaulyk 2016–2019”.  PHC ensures integration, comprehensiveness, continuity and responsiveness to the health needs of the population.

The conference called for inclusion of key stakeholders in health decisions and to enhance communication between patients and doctors, practitioners and managers, and policy-makers and partners as a business model to healthcare. These innovative processes to improving services in PHC are part of the collaborative between the Government of Kazakhstan, WHO and other United Nations agencies in the regions of Kyzylorda and Mangystau.

Dr Hans Kluge, Director of the Division of Health Systems and Public Health, co-chaired the event. He acknowledged the fact that in 1978, Almaty was the cradle of PHC and that now – as host of the WHO European Centre for Primary Health Care – it is its home. The newly established Centre supports countries to strengthening integrated health services delivery towards people-centred across the WHO European Region. Dr Kluge and senior staff of the Division also spoke to 1000 medical students at the Kazakh National Medical University about the importance of people-centred health services and the opportunities for redefining the model of care today. In advocating for new driving forces to support Kazakhstan’s health reforms, and to encourage students to embrace innovation, he quoted the phrase of Albert Einstein: “problems cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them”.