Young people: partners for health

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Final Statement: 16th October 2008


International Conference Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of

Alma Ata Declaration on Primary Health Care

October 10 – 16, 2008, Almaty, Kazakhstan
We, young people from Brazil, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malta, Philippines, Tanzania, and the United States of America, representing our regional and global networks, gather here to take part in celebrating the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Alma Ata Declaration on Primary Health Care. We strongly reaffirm the definition of health as a “complete state of physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.” For us, health equates to a complete state of wellbeing through the achievement of human rights. We believe that the Alma Ata Declaration is still relevant today and that Primary Health Care (PHC) is the key towards achieving “health for all”, especially for children and young people.
Young people need to be at the forefront in the development of primary health efforts. We urge governments, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, corporations, academia and media to act upon these recommendations so that young people get involved as PARTNERS in primary health care NOW and in the future.

We, young people, believe that primary health care can be successfully achieved with

  • Health care delivery systems that are friendly and sensitive to young people’s needs. Health care providers, families and young people must be equipped with attitudes, skills, and knowledge to create an environment that enables young people to exercise their human rights and build trust with their health providers. Moreover, health care facilities and services should be accessible, available, affordable, acceptable, and appropriate for young people.

  • Meaningful participation of young people in health policies and primary health care. This includes giving us a voice, opportunities and partnerships in healthcare and beyond. Furthermore young people must be involved in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of PHC systems and programmes at all levels. We are partners in change.

  • Educational systems, including primary healthcare education, that cultivate life skills and foster analytical thinking to encourage social responsibility among young people. Education should include disease prevention, nutrition, sanitation and age-appropriate sexual education. In relation to sexual education, governments must not be allowed to restrict people from free access to reproductive health supplies specifically contraceptives. Special programmes for women and girls health as well as education for men and boys on gender equality must be included in PHC education.

Education about PHC must be motivational, engaging, interactive, informal and culturally sensitive. Informational materials should be made age appropriate and young-people friendly in formats that are easily accessible to them.

  • Integration of all health issues that affect young people. Major health issues of young people include mental health, sexually transmitted infections / HIV/AIDS, tobacco and alcohol use, drug use, injury and sexual violence. The PHC system must recognize that these issues are interdependent at the individual and also at the community level. Thus, these health issues must be tackled in a holistic manner.

  • Integrated approaches to young people’s health. Young people must be educated on healthy lifestyles through the understanding of economic factors, cultural diversity, climate change, violence prevention, health, HIV/AIDS and nutrition. This entails the integration of various sectors including academia and civil society organizations.

  • Inclusion of marginalized groups. Individuals in marginalized groups include, but are not limited to, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, sexually and economically exploited young people, and people that suffer discrimination on the basis of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, leprosy, polio and TB. PHC systems should recognize and proactively include individuals in marginalized groups while upholding the utmost level of human rights and ensuring the preservation of their culture.

  • Accountability at all levels. Primary healthcare systems are constituted of various stakeholders and actors including people receiving healthcare, caregivers, volunteers, donors and policymakers. All actors within the primary healthcare system must be held accountable for the provision, seeking and maintenance of the health of all individuals within communities.

  • Eradication of harmful cultural practices and social violence. Harmful practices include, honor-based violence, coercion of young people to commiting violent acts, Female Genital Mutilation and early marriages. These are an absolute infringement of fundemental human rights impeding on young people's health. Violence should not be committed and promoted in any way amongst young people in society.

  • Corporate responsibility to promote PHC and young peoples’ health. We seek regulation of marketing to young people, specifically limiting the influence of alcohol, tobacco, and the promotion of specific beauty standards. These standards place pressure on young girls to look, dress and behave a certain way and for boys to act violent. Government and policy-making bodies should require private corporations to actively contribute, in a non-profit manner, to primary healthcare systems.

  • Equitable Intellectual Property Rights Policies and Patents. Policy-making bodies should take up a human rights-based approach to re-evaluate the necessity of patents on life-saving medicines and essential medicines as well as the promotion of technology transfer. Life-saving medicines should be made available to health systems without patents to allow for the production of generic drugs thus making them affordable in low-income countries.

  • Young people being actively involved in the follow-up and actions to promote PHC. This will be accomplished through strengthening existing networks and building more partnerships between and amongst young people and all sectors of society involved in primary health care.

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