Amref International University (AMIU) Hosts 1st Primary Health Care Congress

By Maureen Cherongis
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It has been 45 years since the landmark 1978 Alma-Ata Declaration, which defined Primary Health Care (PHC) as “essential healthcare based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible to individuals and families in the community through their full participation and at a cost that the community and country can afford.” Despite the promulgation of the Primary Health Care agenda after the 1978 Alma-Ata Declaration, its actualization has remained elusive. The University seeks to foster evidence-based practices to transform the health system in Africa.

Nairobi, 30 November, 2023: Amref International University (AMIU) today hosted its inaugural Primary Health Care (PHC) Congress, the first of a three (3) day biennial series that will bring together a mix of high-level experts, policy makers, implementers and upcoming professionals who share a vision of aligning practice to evidence in strengthening Primary Health Care for lasting health change in Africa. The congress is a continental forum for research partners from Africa and beyond to deliberate on the extent to which PHC practices in Africa are evidence-based and to share recent evidence that can enhance PHC practice.

The basis of the congress is that health indicators have remained a challenge in Africa with the continent having the highest burden of disease, early preventable deaths and inefficient and weak health systems. “Primary health care is not merely a set of basic health services, it is a comprehensive and holistic approach that addresses the broader determinants of health while involving the participation of our communities in making decisions regarding their health. For us to progressively improve on our health indicators, we need to keep learning from our previous, current and future experiences. Thus, research is a key and necessary component of health service delivery,” said H.E Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, Governor of Kisumu County, during the official opening ceremony of the congress.

The host, Amref International University, focusing primarily on health sciences training, develops health workers who have the ability to transform their communities, and continues to advocate for contextualized evidence to inform models of health systems strengthening and primary health care. “Well trained and fit for purpose PHC workers have inquisitive minds and involve themselves in research. They apply evidence in what they do. We believe that evidence-based practices transform the health system,” said Prof Joachim Osur, the Vice Chancellor AMIU.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends reorienting health systems using a primary health care approach. PHC is the most inclusive, equitable, cost-effective and efficient approach to enhance people’s physical and mental health, as well as social well-being. “We must align practices with the best available evidence to enhance the effectiveness, accessibility, and sustainability of health care systems in Kenya, ultimately improving the well-being of our people,” said Prof. Emily Akuno, Vice Chancellor, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology.

The three-day PHC congress will culminate into the launch of the Amref International University Journal of Primary Health Care and the Primary Health Care Centre of Excellence on Friday 1st December 2023, which also marks the World Aids Day.