Primary Health Care is whole-of-society approach to health and well-being centered on the needs and preferences of individuals, families and communities.
It provides whole-person care for health needs throughout the lifespan, not just for a set of specific diseases. primary health care ensures people receive comprehensive care, from promotion and prevention to treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.
The concept of primary health care has been repeatedly reinterpreted and redefined.
Essential Health Services in Primary Health Care
- Education for health
- Locally endemic disease control
- Expanded program for immunization
- Maternal and child health including responsible parenthood
- Essential drugs
- Treatment of communicable and non-communicable diseases
- Safe water and sanitation
PHC is the first point of contact for individuals who are unwell and to promote healthy lifestyles in order to prevent illness from occurring. Principles of Primary health care are a set of beliefs and values that revolve around equity and fairness for all, eliminating discrimination, so that all people have access to PHC whenever they need it.
Why is primary care important?
Primary care is meant to be your main source for healthcare, one in which you have an ongoing partnership with your healthcare provider in the larger context of your community. Primary care is designed to:
- give you better access to healthcare
- lower your costs
- improve your health outcomes
Many people find that primary care is a better alternative than going to the emergency room because it’s a less expensive and a less time-consuming way to treat basic, acute illnesses or injuries.
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The state of Nigeria’s Primary Health Care
PHC is a grass-roots approach to provide health care services to communities. The Federal Government of Nigeria launched the Primary Health Care plan (PHC) in the National Health Policy of 1988 as the cornerstone of the Nigerian health system as part of efforts to improve equity in access and utilization of basic health services.
According to National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), It stated that only four (4) doctors are available to every 10,000 Nigerians.
It also added that mere 43% (percent) of the citizenry have access to quality National Primary health care (PHC) services, adding that 70% (percent) of disease burden could have been prevented and managed at primary health care centers. Despite polices aimed at improving primary healthcare delivery in the country developed, the situation in this overpopulated country is still in a sorry state.
Keynote speaker Professor Tanimola Akande, a consultant at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital include the ‘Saving One Million Lives for Results (SOMLR)’ and the ‘Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF)’ said “Unfortunately, years after these interventions were initiated, the challenges that limit the effective delivery of PHC services still exist. They include, fragmented governance and coordination, poor and dilapidated health facilities, shortage of human resources and poor funding.”
According to the World Health Organization, about 80–90% of an individual’s healthcare needs throughout their lifetime could be met at the primary healthcare level, further echoing the significant importance of standard, well equipped and well-staffed PHCs, particularly in rural communities.
Ways it’s getting better
- Private sector investment to improve PHC
- Leveraging the pandemic to improve PHCs
- Deriving resources to provide quality care
- Power of advocacy
However, there is still much to do, especially ensuring that there is one fully functional private or public PHC in every ward in Nigeria