A society is formed by different strata containing people of low, moderate and high income groups. Their needs vary and not everyone is in a position to afford the best health care services. In such circumstances, there is a sheer dearth of proper treatment due to unavailability of sufficient funds. This further leads to high mortality rate in a country. Therefore, it’s the responsibility of the government to improve health care services and ensure that everyone receives adequate treatment and is capable of completely enjoying the privileges granted to them. Primary Health Care (PHC) is a holistic health care system wherein every individual of a country can access medical facilities irrespective of his/her financial status and ethnicity.
The principles and policies of primary health care were identified in the Alma Ata Declaration (1978), which strongly recommended ‘a sustained plan that would be an integral part of the health system prevailing in a country’. The principles laid down by the act were implied to almost all the nations of the world. Furthermore, a proper coordination with other sectors (agriculture, education, public work sectors, communication, rural development, etc.) was also required in order to meet its objectives.
The World Health Organization has also contributed to achieving the goals of primary health care. It has emphasized five elements essential for its comprehensive establishment. We shall define them in the following list.
Increasing stakeholder participation
Integrating health into all sectors (public policy reforms)
Pursuing collaborative models of policy dialog (leadership reforms)
Reducing exclusion and social disparities in health (universal coverage reforms)
Organizing health services around people’s needs and expectations (service delivery reforms)
Importance of Primary Health Care
So how can primary health care bring about a change in the existing health care system? How significant is it for a country? Do people actually benefit from it? Does it use the latest technologies for treatment? How is it connected to other sectors of an economy? Let’s find out the answers.
Treatment is Open to All
The main objective of PHC is, treatment based not on the income of an individual but on his/her needs. Anyone can visit PHC setups and get the necessary treatment done. This is because, the primary objective of such organizations is equal distribution of health care regardless of age, gender, caste, color, and religion of an individual. Patients who have insurance policies are assured medical assistance. There are services for aged and differently abled people, rehab programs for drug and alcohol addicts, treatment for mental patients, family planning, child health care, and special care for women. Services are also extended to rural and remote areas. Patients are satisfied completely because they receive hassle free treatment. The nature of service provided by health care organizations is socially acclaimed due to all these privileges.
Use of Proper Technology
Latest technologies used in the field of medicine have been incorporated in primary health care setups for the benefit of patients. This is done to meet the expectations of people and to keep their standard on par with residential hospitals. Such developmental strategies are also essential for treatment of complex health disorders. Cost, feasibility, and accessibility are some important factors that are taken into consideration before introducing a new medical technology. The diagnostic techniques practiced by doctors and the new technology are established only when they are accepted by the community. Apart from technology, medical counseling, nursing, postoperative care, immunization, medicines, nutrition, and ambulance are also provided to patients. All these facilities have led to improvement of treatment, quick access to doctors, and betterment of health of patients. In short, it is a patient-centered care unit.
Option for Voluntary Service
As the main motive of primary health care units is to improve the health of people, it enrolls people interested in voluntary service. The more the number of people working, the better is the service provided. The reason being, there will be ample caretakers, compounders, nurses, and other types of staff to monitor patients. Volunteers are also recruited for local disease control and offering first-contact services (like general physicians, assistants, anesthetists, etc.). There is provision for training programs to make them skilled in handling machines. The option of voluntary service also provides opportunities to people who are keen to work in healthcare sectors. With the establishment of such services, jobs in health care have also experienced a major boost.
Encourage Participation of Other Sectors
As health care sectors work for all-round improvement of the society, it encourages participation of other sectors. This multisectional approach entails the involvement of communication industry, agricultural sector and public works. Now you might be wondering how participation of these sectors can boost the growth of primary health care units. For instance, PHC organizations depend on the agricultural sector for food supply while public works like sanitation, water supply, etc., ensure that these amenities reach the people. They also work in conjunction with local governments, municipalities, and non-profit organizations in order to bring about a remarkable change in rural areas. Such policies adopted by the organizations are vital for making a community self-reliant.
The fact that primary health care is absolutely a people-centric organization, you can draw an inference that the quality of service provided would definitely upgrade the well-being of an individual. However, the facilities and privileges offered to people differ from one country to another and the nature of health care services are determined by the government. Regardless of this fact, the importance of primary health care is immense and would always be beneficial for the society and its people.