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Alma Ata at 40

September 13th, 2018 | 2 min read

By Matthew Loftus

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the Alma Ata Declaration (PDF) — the landmark 1978 World Health Organization statement by 134 countries affirming the vital role of primary health care. This article explains why it’s so important to still focus on primary health care: even though we can make a huge impact and save millions of lives by intentionally targeting diseases like HIV/AIDS, TB, or malaria (and we should), that shouldn’t come at the expense of building a good primary health care system that deals with all of the other diseases people get — because those kill people, too!

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Matthew Loftus

Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at