Commentary | Volume 18: 54 | 16 Sep 2023

Sustainable Development Goals and the role of and implications for primary care physicians


The Declaration of Alma-Ata in 1978 and the subsequent Declaration of Astana in 2018 highlight the important role of primary health care in delivering ‘health for all’ and supporting progress towards universal health coverage. Alongside these key declarations, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) establish an ambitious framework aimed at promoting sustainable development worldwide by addressing poverty, inequality, climate change, health and other global challenges by 2030. There has been progress in respect of many SDGs since their launch in 2015. Nevertheless, many challenges remain, and there will need to be a significant increase in effort if the 2030 targets are to be met in full. Primary health care in Malaysia has evolved in line with broader, global developments. Nonetheless, there are opportunities for the country’s primary care physicians to do more to support efforts to achieve the SDGs, including those that extend beyond the health sector as conventionally defined. This paper outlines a number of areas where primary care physicians, fulfilling roles as clinicians, community members, managers of their practices and influential members of society, can contribute to promoting sustainable development in line with the SDG agenda.