Primary health care

The ultimate goal of primary health care is better health for all. WHO has identified five key elements to achieving that goal:

  • reducing exclusion and social disparities in health (universal coverage reforms);
  • organizing health services around people’s needs and expectations (service delivery reforms);
  • integrating health into all sectors (public policy reforms);
  • pursuing collaborative models of policy dialogue (leadership reforms); and
  • increasing stakeholder participation.

Why a renewal of primary health care (PHC), and why now, more than ever? The immediate answer is the palpable demand for it from Member States – not just from health professionals, but from the political arena as well. Globalization is putting the social cohesion of many countries under stress, and health systems, as key constituents of the architecture of contemporary societies, are clearly not performing as well as they could and as they should. People are increasingly impatient with the inability of health services to deliver levels of national coverage that meet stated demands and changing needs, and with their failure to provide services in ways that correspond to their expectations. Few would disagree that health systems need to respond better – and faster – to the challenges of a changing world. PHC can do that.

Primary health care, including health system strengthening – Report by the Secretariat, WHA May 2009

WHA62.12 Primary health care, including health system strengthening

Alma-Ata Declaration

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