What is primary care?

Updated: Nov 7, 2018

The Alma-Ata declaration envisaged Primary Care as, ‘the first level of contact of individuals, the family and community with the national health system bringing health care as close as possible to where people live and work and constituting the first element of a continuing health care process’. Primary care teams comprise of GPs, nurses, physiotherapists, midwifes, dentists, occupational therapists, counselors, social workers, and community health workers. Together they address the major health problems of the local community through promotive, preventive, curative, palliative, and rehabilitative care.

Countries with strong primary care foundations have been found to produce better population health outcomes at lower costs. There is no one-size-fits-all model for organising primary care and the systems of Cuba and the USA bookend a spectrum of markedly different approaches.

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