WHO/UNICEF: A vision for primary health care in the 21st century

30 October, 2018

As part of their contribution to the Astana Global Conference on Primary Health Care, the World Health Organization and UNICEF have published 'A vision for primary health care in the 21st century: Towards universal health coverage and the sustainable development goals'


Below are extracts from the Executive Summary:


... PHC has three inter-related and synergistic components:

1. Meeting people’s health needs through comprehensive promotive, protective, preventive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative care throughout the life course, strategically prioritizing key health care services aimed at individuals and families through primary care and the population through public health functions as the central elements of integrated health services;

2. Systematically addressing the broader determinants of health (including social, economic and environmental factors, as well as individual characteristics and behaviour) through evidence-informed policies and actions across all sectors;

3. Empowering individuals, families, and communities to optimize their health, as advocates for policies that promote and protect health and well-being, as codevelopers of health and social services, and as self-carers and caregivers...

People are protected from adverse health outcomes through population-based measures, planned and delivered with consideration for the needs of those served. These include prevention and control of locally endemic diseases and disease outbreaks, prevention of noncommunicable diseases, and information and education concerning prevailing health problems, including major risks, and how to prevent and control them.

In the context of individual care, a trusted multidisciplinary primary care team supports patients in prioritizing and identifying care goals... Teams are responsible for assessing the health needs of the patient, providing safe, evidence-based, cost-efficient management through appropriate use of health technologies and information technology, and coordinating additional or specialized services for patients who need them through wider PHC networks...

Efforts to advance health and well-being are anchored in and informed by the community. People have access to the knowledge, skills and resources needed to care for themselves and their loved ones, leveraging the full potential of health technologies as well as information and communications technologies (ICT).


Here is an extract from the full text:

'At the time of the International Conference on Primary Health Care in Alma-Ata in 1978, access to health information was often quite limited and typically required access to a health professional. Today, in contrast, the first thing that many people across the world do when faced with a health problem is to use their mobile phone to seek more information, from the Internet or another source of information

that previously would not necessarily have been accessible.'

Comment (Neil PW): This gives the false impression that connectivity is the solution to meeting information needs. Connectivity is just one aspect of a bigger picture. Increased connectivity leads to increased exposure to misinformation as well as reliable information, and pervasive low health literacy will mean widespread inability to distinguish one from the other.

Best wishes, Neil

Let's build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare information - Join HIFA: www.hifa.org

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 18,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on five global forums in three languages. He also currently chairs the Dgroups Foundation (www.dgroups.info), which supports 800 communities of practice on international development, health and social justice. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org