World Health Assembly: 27 May – 1 June 2024 (2) Accelerating Primary Health Care transformation with evidence

28 May, 2024

I attended over half of the online part of the 77th World Health Assembly side event “Accelerating Primary Health Care transformation with evidence”. 27th May 2024 17.00 BST.

The event was especially supported by Kazakhstan and Spain. Kazakhstan had hosted and instigated the first WHO conference and planning event for Universal Primary Care at Alma Ata fifty years ago.

I followed three quarters of an hour of the event whilst I was on holiday.

The online part of the event was opened by Doctor Bruce Alyward, deputy director General of the WHO for Universal Health Care.

Bruce Aylward explained that 4.5 billion of the world’s 8.1 billion people do not have access to universal health care. 2 billion suffer financial hardships paying for care that they cannot really afford. 334 million people live in absolute poverty. It seems that Universal healthcare is more achievable if countries invest more in primary care **and less in secondary - when a primary care provider refers a patient to a specialist, and tertiary care - specialized care delivered in a hospital or similar care setting, usually requiring a referral from a primary or secondary care provider, and typically only available at specialized medical centres. The WHO had offices that promoted primary care in 150 countries and had 120 Universal Healthcare officers.

Hands Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, stated that the expansion of Universal Healthcare had stalled. Urban health, mountainous health, telehealth, big data, AI and public health needed to be expanded and supported by the public and by politics. “Health should be for all, and all for should be for health”, preventing long term conditions, whilst embracing empathy, trust, health, and happiness.

Jarbas Barbosa, WHO Regional Director for the Americas, emphasized the need for prevention, health promotion and primary care to achieve Universal healthcare. There was a call for digital, hardware and software from many countries.

Rand Haijesh, Director of Program Management for the Eastern Mediterranean region of the WHO, expanded on “why is our data important”. 21 countries in the East Mediterranean region had been plagued by emergencies. A 2008 Dohar commitment and a 2018 Salaah declaration on universal health care had been made but the Middle East was behind on Universal Health care.

In 2013 the Gates Foundation invested in primary care measurement, exploring gaps in data for healthcare. Data helped during and after Covid. Innovation in primary care and digital health were imperative. Re-emphasis on primary healthcare as opposed to secondary and tertiary care was necessary, with stronger systems of care and stronger systems of information collection. Private healthcare was taking more and more of primary healthcare in the Middle East. Health for Peace was a supported initiative.

Dheepa Rajhan of the European Observatory on Health explained that a case had been made for a Primary care study search engine. This had stimulated the production of shared information about the global report on Primary Health care in a resource – “Implementing the Primary Care Health approach: a primer”- Implementing the Primary Health Care Approach: a Primer | European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies ( This primer is a web-based repository, on a global hub. It includes a review of peer reviewed and grey literature including 50 countries’ case studies.

WHO believes that to enhance and strengthen primary care, it is desirable to:

1, explain why primary Health Care

2. primary healthcare needs to be people driven

3. to have leadership and finance with compassion and empathy.

Monica Garcia, Minister for health for Spain, explored the strengths of universal health care and equity of access to primary health care. She promoted decentralization and digitization.

I left for a group dinner at 17.50.

HIFA profile: Richard Fitton is a retired family doctor - GP. Professional interests: Health literacy, patient partnership of trust and implementation of healthcare with professionals, family and public involvement in the prevention of modern lifestyle diseases, patients using access to professional records to overcome confidentiality barriers to care, patients as part of the policing of the use of their patient data Email address: richardpeterfitton7 AT