Exploring The Global History of Primary Health Care

Posted on 24 October 2018

CGHH's Sanjoy Bhattacharya and Ben Walker discuss their research at the International conference on Global History of Primary Health Care

Later this week Professor Sanjoy Bhattacharya and Dr Ben Walker will take part in the International conference on Global History of Primary Health Care being held at Peking University, China, on 27th October. As part of this day event, Sanjoy and Ben deliver a talk entitled ‘Beyond Presentism: Reviewing the birth of the World Health Organization and its advocacy of Primary Health Care’. This presentation will propose alternative historical methodologies and arguments about the birth, growth and impact of the WHO, drawing on the example of calls within the WHO to promote primary health care improve inclusive access to services making this possible.

Later in the programme, Ben will also discuss ‘Global Visions, Local Priorities: Christian Mission, International Health Organisations and Primary Health Care in Ghana,1967-1990’. Whilst historians of global health have commonly argued that after 1978 and the Alma Ata declaration, the hopes of the Primary Health Care (PHC) movement were short-lived, his talk will argue that in Ghana from the late 1960s into the 1990s, PHC continually grew. If anything the 1980s were actually the time of the most PHC activity in the country - with projects and initiatives bubbling up everywhere.

Smallpox Public Lecture Poster

On October the 26th Sanjoy will also deliver a public lecture ‘Smallpox Eradication: Inclusive histories as meaningful roadmaps for global health’, which is being organised in conjunction with the Peking University Center for the History of Medicine. He will demonstrate that national experiences of the development of smallpox vaccine and eradication campaigns varied widely in structure and impact, and these were brought together, with the help of a host of local actors, to create an international fight against this dreaded disease. That battle was won, step-by-step. His presentation discusses why it is important to question and challenge narrow sets of institutional histories that privilege the voices and actions of small numbers of people.