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Primary Health Care

Primary Health Care

Primary Health Care

1) Define Primary Health Care

2) Enumerate the elements of Primary Health Care

3) Identify the educational preparations for nurses in Primary Health Care

4) Explain the different roles and Responsibilities of nurses in providing Primary Health Care

Primary Health Care


Primary Health Care

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The concept of primary health care (PHC) is broad. It involves promoting health and wellbeing to prevent and treat diseases and illnesses. PHC goes beyond delivering health care services and creating a conducive environment that can help the public become healthy. Primary health care is about making caregivers more accessible to the communities. When a physician or any other caregivers and a client meet, primary health care commences, be it to seek counsel or treatment. It is a fundamental human right to have access to PHC at affordable costs, and caregivers should use socially acceptable, practical, and scientifically proven intervention (White, 2015). Primary health care also involves community education on prevalent health issues such as the current COVID-19, disease promotion and prevention, family planning, nutrition, hygiene, immunization, and generally healthy living (White, 2015). The definition of PHC that focuses on the professional caregiver and a patient implies care in the clinical context and does not cover the whole picture of PHC. On the other hand, the WHO definition of PHC seems to cover the entire healthcare system, including communities and their health role. WHO recognizes the need to include social, environmental, and public policy in the context of care.
Brief History of Primary Health Care
PHC developed out of the international conference organized by WHO and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in 1978, who issued an Alma Ata Declaration on Primary Health Care (White, 2015). However, this does not mean primary care was not being practiced well then, as health policymakers from developed nations were far ahead of developing countries in developing their primary and public health systems. The declaration in 1978 was considered a blueprint to concepts and practices of Primary Health Care in the discipline of care. The advocacy then was to achieve health for all by the year 2000. However, it is notable that over the past 40 years, PHC has highly advanced from plans, thoughts, and words to reality and action, thanks to advancements in research, technology, and evidence-based practice. The current goals of PHC are to achieve health equity, commonly known as universal health coverage in the current changing systems. The goals can only be achieved when universal health coverage is linked with primary health care. The aim is to promote quality health outcomes at lower costs that lead to patient and caregiver satisfaction.
Elements of Primary Health Care
PHC has different elements and objectives that are aimed at promoting the health of communities worldwide. PHC entails various forms of care, including promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative, and supportive/palliative care.
Promotive care: This form of PHC uses organizational, educational, environmental, and economic support systems to ensure that the conditions and behavior of the people is conducive for health and wellbeing
Preventive care: Refers to the measures and actions taken to prevent the occurrence of a disease. The efforts aim towards eliminating, eradicating, and cushioning the impact of illness and disability and reducing the exacerbation of disease progression. A good example of preventive care is immunization.
Curative care: This describes all the treatments and therapies provided to clients to resolve an illness or disability and restore their health to how it was before the disease attacked.
Rehabilitative care: This is an aspect of PHC where a different form of specialists help a client maintain, get back, or enhance their capabilities and functioning to improve one’s quality of life impacted by sickness, injury, or disability. An example includes speech therapy.
Supportive/palliative care: This form of PHC is special and targets patients with serious illnesses to relieve their pain, discomfort, stress, and symptoms of the disease. The primary aim of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and their family.
Basic principles of PHC
The basic principles are to encourage community participation, integration of healthcare programs, intersectoral collaboration, equity, and self-reliance (White, 2015). Community participation in health care is crucial as each person and their family assume the responsibility of individual health and others and pooling of resources towards that course. There are various sectors in the community such as finance, education, agriculture, information systems, and such, of which when they work together, they enhance human development and impact health (White, 2015). The integration of health services guarantees care continuity, sustainability, effective use of resources, and positive health outcomes. Equity in healthcare ensures primary care is accessible and affordable to all people. PHC also needs to promote self-reliance through practices that are scientifically sound and can be complemented by technology.
Educational preparations for nurses in Primary Health Care
There have been numerous health reforms that acknowledge nurses’ impact on strengthening and advancing primary health systems to decentralize care from hospitals to communities. The approach is towards quality care provision that aims to reduce healthcare costs, curb the surge in chronic illnesses, promote self-care and empowerment, and address health inequalities (Ferreira, Périco & Dias, 2018). The scope in which a nurse can practice in PHC is determined by their educational background, professional registration, clinical specialization, and nursing experience. Nursing education is ever continuous since the profession and PHC environment change drastically; hence nurses need to improve their knowledge and skills to enhance their competencies in a changing world. There are different educational paths that one may follow to qualify as a nurse capable of providing PHC. Regardless of the licensing and graduate degree level, the nursing curriculum follows the general course of study for an APRN, who needs specialized NP training and education. After acquiring knowledge, it is mandatory to have a state and professional licenses. Nurses can further choose to pursue a specialization of their liking.

Roles and Responsibilities of nurses in providing PHC
Nurses are the majority of health care professionals hence impactful in advancing, making changes, and providing PHC. The primary role of nurses is to offer care and help clients manage their health. Primary health care is evolving and expanding at a higher rate, even offering nurses opportunities to work in different settings and team up with other health and social care providers. Nursing roles in primary health care differs based on one’s team composition, position, knowledge and skills, experience, and population. Nurses’ major roles and responsibilities in PHC include advocacy, health promotion, patient education, public health, treatment of sick, disease prevention, community development, disease management, and research (Ferreira, Périco & Dias, 2018). The nurse can also support and educate colleagues, organize the clinical environment, leadership, engage in quality control, participate in problem-solving forums in organizational contexts, and be an agent to connect patients, administration staff, and care practice (Ferreira, Périco & Dias, 2018). The roles of nurses in PHC are immense and evolving with time.

Ferreira, S. R. S., Périco, L. A. D., & Dias, V. R. F. G. (2018). The complexity of the work of nurses in Primary Health Care. Revista brasileira de enfermagem, 71, 704-709.
White, F. (2015). Primary health care and public health: foundations of universal health systems. Medical Principles and Practice, 24(2), 103-116.

Primary Health Care

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