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Primary health care, often abbreviated as PHC, is

"essential health care based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible to individuals and families in the community through their full participation and at a cost that the community and the country can afford to maintain at every stage of their development in the spirit of self-determination"[1] (Alma Ata international conference definition)

It was a new approach to health care that came into existence following this international conference in Alma Ata in 1978 organized by the World Health Organisation and the UNICEF.

Primary health care was accepted by the member countries of WHO as the key to achieving the goal of Health for all.

Essential components of primary health care[]

The Declaration of Alma Ata outlined the 8 essential components of primary health care such as principles of,

Equitable distribution[]

Health services must be shared equally by all people irrespective of their ability to pay and all (rich or poor, urban or rural) must have access to health services. Primary health care aims to address the current imbalance in health care by shifting the centre of gravity from cities where a majority of the health budget is spent to rural areas where a majority of people live in most countries.

Community participation[]

There must be a continuing effort to secure meaningful involvement of the community in the planning, implementation and maintenance of health services, beside maximum reliance on local resources such as manpower, money and materials.

Intersectoral coordination[]

Primary health care involves in addition to the health sector, all related sectors and aspects of national and community development, in particular agriculture, animal husbandry, food, industry, education, housing, public works, communication and other sectors.

Four Cornerstones in primary health care[]

  1. Active community participation
  2. Intra and Inter-sectoral linkages
  3. Use of appropriate Technology
  4. Support Mechanism made Available

Elements of PHC[]

E-education for health L-locally endemic disease control E-expanded program of immunization M-maternal and child health E-essential drugs N-nutrition T-treatment of communicable disease s-safe water and sanitation

In medicine, primary care is a term used for a health care provider who acts as a first point of consultation for all patients. Generally, primary care physicians are based in the community, as opposed to the hospital. Alternative names for the field are general practice and family medicine, although the terms are not synonymous.

General practitioners in the UK are physicians who have completed four years of post-medical school training including three years based in hospitals and one-year attached to a training general practitioner in the community.

Family Medicine, in the USA, is a specialty that requires a minimum of three years of residency training and Board Certification. This specialty is considered the traditional general medicine specialty in the US.

Examples of diseases managed in primary care are:

Primary care physicians usually include family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, and at times OB/GYN physicians. It is important to note, however, that the last three of the above specialties are not technically general medicine specialties. These specialties are primary care, but NOT general medicine.

Psychological conditions in primary care[]

Psychologists in primary care settings[]

See also[]

Primary care may be provided in community health centres.

References and external links[]

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