All agencies seeking to improve primary health care (PHC) should advocate for and act on its three core elements, as described in the “Vision for PHC for the 21st Century” produced for the 2018 Global Conference on PHC. These include: (i) Comprehensive health care throughout the life course, aimed at individuals and families through primary care, and at populations through public health functions; (ii) Systematically addressing the broader determinants of health through evidence-informed policies and actions across all sectors, and (iii) Empowering individuals, families, and communities to optimize their health, as co-developers of health and social services, and as self-carers and caregivers. The goal is to establish PHC that prevents disease and promotes health and well-being for all individuals and populations, through efficient, high impact and sustainable approaches aligned with local context, capacity and country priorities.
Operationalization of PHC to deliver primary care for all includes service delivery through formal health systems, from health post to households and including private providers. It interfaces with community networks and structures (women’s groups, social workers and community organizations) that support community engagement and social accountability. It integrates the delivery of preventive, promotive and curative health, nutrition, HIV, ECD and WASH services with community systems to produce improved development outcomes including survival, growth and development results for all children in all settings. Frontline line workers, commodity procurement and supply and data are critical health systems building blocks to operationalize PHC at community level.
Essential activities to strengthen these building blocks are: