This panel scrutinises the framing, evolution, and implementation of programmes in primary health care (PHC) in Africa, emphasising connections and disjunctures between present-day philanthrocapitalist, and prior modes of extending and funding PHC, in a long history before and since Alma Ata.
The Alma Ata Declaration of 1978 gave rise to renewed commitment at state level, and a range of economic and organisational strategies, aimed at developing and strengthening public health systems, under the banner of promoting 'health for all' through primary health care (PHC). Across Africa, this aspiration promised the consolidation of a range of humanitarian and postcolonial state interventions, pilots and programmes into a concerted drive for donor-, tax-, and loan-funded systematisations in the health sector at national level. The optimism, and the commitment of resources, proved shortlived. Now, in a very different political and economic dispensation, the superficially connected call for 'Universal Health Coverage' in global health is equally galvanising. Is it equally vulnerable? This panel proposes a critical scrutiny of the framing, evolution, and implementation of programmes in public health and primary health care in Africa, emphasising the connections between present-day philanthrocapitalist alignments around funding circumscribed forms of equity in public health, and prior modes of extending and funding PHC, in a long history before and since Alma Ata. Papers from a wide range of disciplines are invited to dwell on the salience of aspiration, hope and emotional commitment around a notion of health as a public good; connections, coalitions and tensions between interest groups at community, national, and international levels; disruption, failure and resuscitation in planning for PHC; exemplary programmes and signal successes or failures in public health implementation; and disjunctures between past and present modes and framings of coverage in primary health care in Africa.