Primary Health Care

At least half of the world’s population still does not have access to quality essential health services and 100 million people in low- and middle-income countries are pushed into poverty because of out-of-pocket spending on health. A strong primary health care (PHC) system provides individuals and communities access to a full range of quality, essential health services, contributing towards the achievement of universal health coverage. This approach has its roots in the 1978 Alma Ata Declaration which stated that essential health benefits are a human right.

The existing evidence shows that a health system based on high-quality, people-centered, integrated primary health care delivers better health outcomes, including longer life expectancy, decreased infant mortality, and decreased under-five mortality. It helps individuals and families connect with trusted health care workers and facilitates access to essential health services, such as family planning, maternal health care, vaccines, and non-communicable disease screening and treatment. And it can best respond to unexpected pandemics or other disasters to meet the health needs of men, women and children.  Strong PHC systems are comprehensive, continuous, coordinated, accessible, and the first point of contact into the health system. However, they are often a weak link in a country’s health system due to insufficient levels of funding, poor staffing, and low-quality services.

There is no single definition of PHC that works in every context. One way that countries can improve PHC systems is through defining, costing and financing country-specific prioritized essential health services  which account for equity, access and quality of care. Rights-based  prioritized essential health services embedded in a National Health Plan, National Health Financing Strategy or other such national policy should reflect fair and equitable service selection, based on country-specific needs. Defining, costing and financing prioritized essential health services can inform country-specific funding targets based on the assessed need.

Civil Society Statement on Primary Health Care

Several civil society representatives have called for a bold civil society statement to be released on the occasion of the Global Conference on Primary Health Care in Astana, Kazakhstan from October 25-26, 2018. This statement would be in addition to the Conference documents already under development including the Astana Declaration on Primary Health Care, technical background report and operational framework. Please inform the CSEM if you would value a civil society statement, and, if so, what objectives or calls to action and which target audiences you would prioritize. We are open to developing a zero draft civil society statement and would like your input which you can submit using this brief survey link. The deadline for all inputs is August 31, 2018.