Health For All

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Health For All is a concept that was popularised in the 1970s by the World Health Organisation.

Halfdan Mahler, Director General (1973-1983) of the World Health Organisation defined "Health For All" as follows [1]

"Health For All" means that health is to be brought within reach of everyone in a given country. And by "health" is meant a personal state of well being, not just the availability of health services - a state of health that enables a person to lead a socially and economically productive life. "Health For All' implies the removal of the obstacles to health - that is to say, the elimination of malnutrition, ignorance, contaminated drinking water and unhygienic housing - quite as much as it does the solution of purely medical problems such as a lack of doctors, hospital beds, drugs and vaccines.
"Health For All" means that health should be regarded as an objective of economic development and not merely as one of the means of attaining it.
"Health For All" demands, ultimately, literacy for all. Until this becomes reality it demands at least the beginning of an understanding of what health means for every individual.
"Health For All" depends on continued progress in medical care and public health. The health services must be accessible to all through primary health care, in which basic medical help is available in every village, backed up by referral services to more specialised care. Immunisation must similarly achieve universal coverage.
"Health For All" is thus a holistic concept calling for efforts in agriculture, industry, education, housing and communications, just as much as in medicine and public health. Medical care alone cannot bring health to hungry people living in hovels. Health for such people requires a whole new way of life and fresh opportunities to provide themselves with a higher standard of living.
The adoption of "Health For All" by government implies a commitment to promote the advancement of all citizens on a broad front of development and a resolution to encourage the individual citizen to achieve a higher quality of life.
The rate of progress will depend on the political will. The World Health Assembly believes that, given a high degree of determination, "Health For All" could be attained by the year 2000. That target date is a challenge to all WHO's Member States.
The basis of the "Health For All" strategy is primary health care.


Notes

  1. Halfdan Mahler (1981) The meaning of "Health For All by the year 2000". World Health Forum, Vol. 2, No. 1
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