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Going back to primary health care

Oct 18, 2008

Primary Health Care – Now More Than Ever, the latest report by WHO documents that health systems worldwide suffer from striking inequities in access to care and cost of service delivery. The report recommends a return to primary healthcare model which is people-centred, affordable and efficient.

Primary Health Care – Now More Than Ever

Publisher: World Health Organization (WHO), 2008

The report argues that health systems worldwide are unfair, disjointed, inefficient and less effective than they could be. This is evident in the excessive specialisation in rich countries and donor-driven, single disease-focused programmes in poor ones.

A vast proportion of resources are spent on curative services, neglecting prevention and health promotion that could cut 70% of global disease burden.

WHO Report 2008

"Rather than improving their response capacity and anticipating new challenges, health systems seem to be drifting from one short-term priority to another, increasingly fragmented and without a clear sense of direction," says the report.

Moreover, without substantial reorienting, today's struggling health systems are likely to be overwhelmed by the growing challenges of aging populations, pandemics of chronic diseases, new emerging diseases and the impacts of climate change.

The report calls for reorienting national health systems towards primary health care as a way to improve fairness in access and efficiency in the way resources are used.

Primary health care embraces a holistic view of health that went well beyond a narrow medical model. It recognises that many root causes of ill health and disease lie beyond the control of the health sector and thus must be tackled through a broad whole-of-society approach.

All components of society – including those not traditionally involved in health – have to be engaged, including civil society, the private sector, communities and the business sector.

The study finds that doing so would meet several objectives: better health, less disease, greater equity, and vast improvements in the performance of health systems.

Source : WHO
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