Sri Lanka’s PHC system pre-dates Alma Ata and has been the foundation of the country’s remarkable health achievements. With a shift in both demographic and epidemiological profiles, Sri Lanka’s focus now is reforming PHC to address aging and premature deaths due to non-communicable diseases.
Sri Lanka has taken a proactive step towards the Healthy Cities initiative to enhance its population’s overall quality of life. With support from UNICEF and WHO, this initiative is one of the first in the South-East Asian region to promote health, equity, and sustainable development through a multisectoral approach. The Jaffna Healthy City Programme, for example, introduces opportunities for healthy choices such as increased physical activity, improved hygiene and reduced waste production at city schools, workplaces and public spaces. The programme follows the “PHC as a whole-of- society approach to health” including multisectoral action, empowerment of communities and a focus on primary prevention.
As part of the programme, WHO and UNICEF have drawn on and coordinated their technical expertise in health and leading youth-oriented initiatives, respectively, to help revitalize water, sanitation and hygiene facilities at 10 local schools. The program also promotes gender equality to boost the attendance and well-being of female students.