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Healthcare innovators convene in Cape Town to get practical about primary health care delivery

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Healthcare innovators convene in Cape Town to get practical about primary health care delivery

Alma-Ata–PACK congress at the University of Cape Town and South African Medical Research Council, 25 - 26 October 2018

While global health leaders gather in Kazakhstan to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Declaration of Alma Ata - the start of modern primary care - a smaller, but no less important group of health system innovators, decision-makers and researchers convene in Cape Town to launch a social movement to advocate for primary health care for all and to support a system-changing programme that is being spread to help improve primary health care services in South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and China - the Practical Approach to Care Kit,  “PACK”.

Initially a low-key set of primary care nursing instructions for adult lung diseases, PACK has grown over almost two decades into a unique comprehensive guide, used not only by all cadres of primary care health workers to ensure that the care they give is up-to-date, but by decision-makers in the health system to organise the way primary care is delivered.

Over the past 40 years, primary healthcare has had some victories: worldwide childhood deaths have halved, diseases like polio and river-blindness are almost eradicated. However, half of the world’s people cannot access essential health services and 400 million of those have no access to healthcare at all. More needs to be done.

"PACK is the practical embodiment of what health leaders envisaged for primary health care forty years ago," says Associate Professor Lara Fairall, Head of the Knowledge Translation Unit, the Cape Town health research unit that developed PACK.

PACK now supports the reorganisation of primary care services across South Africa as the Adult Primary Care programme. The experience and research of using the programme in South Africa led to the development of a PACK Global programme that contains the policies of the World Health Organisation and the latest in medical care from BMJ’s Best Practice, a continuously updated source of health information.

This Global version of PACK serves as a template for localised country versions of the programme.  Because of international demand for PACK, the KTU offers a mentorship package to support the localisation and implementation work and has partnered with BMJ to help extend PACK’s global reach.

The Alma Ata – PACK Congress, hosted jointly with the Western Cape Department of Health in collaboration with the South African Medical Research Council, the University of Cape Town and BMJ, will bring together from 11 countries government representatives, researchers, implementers of PACK initiatives and partners who assist with PACK dissemination globally.

The Congress will consider strategies to extend and test the scope and reach of PACK and will also see the publication launch of a collection of papers in BMJ journals describing the PACK programme, its implementation in several countries, the lessons learnt along the way and plans for its further development and evaluation.  

With support from global health leaders, health care organisations, researchers, funders and the users of PACK, the PACK Movement will strive to provide a practical approach to getting primary health care to everyone, everywhere.


About the Knowledge Translation unit and University of Cape Town Lung Institute
The KTU is a research unit committed to improving the quality of primary healthcare for underserved communities through pragmatic research, evidence-based implementation, evaluation, and engagement of health systems, their planners and providers.

The University of Cape Town Lung Institute, established in 1998, is a company owned by the University of Cape Town that addresses priority health issues in society through education, research and service, with a special focus on lung health and Southern

About the University of Cape Town
The University of Cape Town is a South African that has a proud tradition of academic excellence and effecting social change and development through its pioneering scholarship, faculty and students.


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