What is Primary Health Care?
According to The World Health Organization (WHO) Alma-Ata declaration of 1978, Primary Health Care refers to essential health care that is based on scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology, which make universal health care accessible to all individuals and families in a community. It can be defined as the first level of medical contact and ongoing care for patients whose symptoms, health problems or symptoms have not been diagnosed.
Primary health care is mainly provided by general practitioners, although specialists such as pharmacists, dentists, geriatricians, and gynecologists can also serve as primary doctors.
What is the aim of Primary Health Care?
The ultimate aim of primary health care is to provide accessible health care services for the attainment of better health for all. Primary health care seeks to reduce pressure on hospitals by supporting people to manage their health issues in the community. The idea is to shift the approach to health from the traditional health care system to a “community-centric approach” that focuses on health equity-producing social policy.
How does Primary Health Care work?
Primary health care involves the provision of general care to people within a community by medical professionals. Usually, these professionals are generalists that deal with broad range of health problems, including physical, social and psychological, rather than specialists in any particular disease area.
Primary Health care involves services such as:
- Health promotion
- Health education
- Preventive health
- Diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses.
Roles of Primary Health Care Providers:
- They encourage patients to take preventive measures for their health
- They promote health initiatives to improve community health
- They counsel patients about their health and give appropriate advice when applicable
- They educate patients about their health and provide relevant information about diseases and treatments
- They screen people in a community for early symptoms of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, etc.
Importance of Primary Health Care:
- Ensures ready access to healthcare services
- Provides affordable and sometimes free healthcare services to poor people.
- Provides free availability of referral services to specialists in case of need.
- It encourages self-reliance among people through advocating prevention and hygiene practices.