The recent Global Conference on Primary Health Care (PHC) held in Astana, Kazakhstan, in October 2018 propelled PHC back high on the agenda (https://www.who.int/primary-health/conference-phc/declaration). The relevance today of the values and principles underlying PHC was strongly reaffirmed. This constitutes a powerful message to the international public health community. At the same time, however, the Astana Conference acknowledged the problems in terms of implementation of PHC. Indeed, despite substantial progress in a number of countries, still far too many people worldwide remain excluded from quality health care.
In India, the flagship programme National Health Mission (NHM) is very much in line with the philosophy and strategy of PHC. NHM was indeed launched with the aim to enhance people’s access to and utilization of quality PHC services, with people’s full participation, and with due attention for multisectoral collaboration (http://nhm.gov.in/). Moreover, there is currently momentum in India towards Universal Health Coverage (https://www.nhp.gov.in/universal-health-coverage_pg), one of the key indicators in the Sustainable Development Goals.
The West Bengal Voluntary Health Association (WBVHA) is a well-established Indian NGO supporting civil society organizations working in the field of health and welfare in the State of West Bengal (http://www.wbvha.co.in/organization ). Among the core activities of the WBVHA, since more than 15 years, is the Basic Health Care Support Programme (BHCSP) operating in West Bengal, from the grassroots to the district level. The vision of the BHCSP is coherent with the NHM and aims to contribute to make PHC a reality for all. Its action is strongly embedded in local civil society organizations. At the same time, the BHCSP invests in a continuous dialogue with public health authorities and local governments in a spirit of collaboration and synergetic action. The BHCSP’s general approach to change is characterized by an inclusive, people-centered, multi-actor, complexity-sensitive, and systems oriented perspective. The BHCSP stakeholders cherish the permanent iteration from action to reflection, invest in making lessons learned explicit, and prioritize knowledge management.
The BHCSP receives financial and technical support from Memisa, a Belgian Non-Governmental Organization. It also benefits from scientific advice from the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health in Kolkata, the Institute of Public Health in Bangalore, and the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium.
The BHCSP, together with its local, state, national and international partners, organizes an international conference in Kolkata on 7-9 February 2019 with the aim to share the ‘story’ of the programme. The objectives of the BHCSP will be presented, as well as it its conceptual and methodological foundations, its outputs, its limitations, and eventually its views on a way forward. The conference will be an opportunity to give the floor to all the partners of the BHCSP, with a special place for the people of West Bengal themselves.
The conference wishes to actively – and openly – engage with a broader audience of policymakers, public health authorities, local government representatives, academia, health workers, civil society organizations, and community stakeholders. It resolutely opts for constructive but critical discussions on past, current and future activities of the BHCSP. Eventually, the conference organizers aim to construct with the conference participants a collaborative agenda for future action and research, pertaining to health programmes and policies in India, and beyond.
The BHCSP and WBVHA, Kolkata,
Free registration but limited seating.
Deadline for registration: January 31st