Understanding Primary Health Care: Services, Principles, and Challenges

What is PHC?
– PHC stands for Primary Health Care.
– It is a comprehensive approach to health care that focuses on providing essential health services to individuals and communities.
– PHC aims to promote health, prevent illness, and provide early diagnosis and treatment of common health problems.
Services provided by PHC
– PHC provides a range of services including preventive care, health education, immunizations, maternal and child health care, treatment of common illnesses, and management of chronic conditions.
– It emphasizes the importance of community participation and empowerment in health care decision making.
– PHC is often the first point of contact for individuals seeking health care services.
Principles and challenges of PHC
– The principles of PHC include accessibility, equity, community participation, intersectoral collaboration, and appropriate technology.
– Challenges in implementing PHC include limited resources, inadequate infrastructure, lack of trained health professionals, and disparities in access to care.
– Efforts are being made to strengthen PHC systems globally to achieve universal health coverage and address the health needs of all individuals and communities.

What Is PHC?

PHC or Primary Health Care refers to the essential or basic health services that are delivered to individuals, families, and communities at the lowest cost possible.

It includes prevention, promotion, treatment, recovery, and palliative care, which is essential healthcare services needed for appropriate health and well-being.

PHC is the primary approach to the organization of health systems to provide comprehensive health promotion, illness prevention, and significantly reduce the overall patient burden in rural, urban, and metropolitan areas.

It relies on healthcare professionals and community volunteers working collaboratively and making wise use of available resources.

It also values close alliances and effective partnerships with all other sectors that are important to health.

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What Is the Purpose of PHC?

The significant purpose of PHC is to meet the patient's needs by learning each health situation's nature.

It also emphasizes the health needs and resources and not the health issues of patients and works to enable them to solve and control their own health issues and gain power over their own health.

Interventions from other sectors that could impact health, such as the environment, food production, and distribution, are also included.

PHC upholds the most trustworthy possible attendance of all at any rate. Further, it endeavors to meet essential health requirements and reduce avoidable damage to health. It also focuses on health equity.

It ensures comprehensive care, including mental and social health. With this, it reduces excessive drug and technology use. It also focuses on appropriate doctors to patients ratio. Lastly, it upholds all required financial and functional approachability.

Primary Health Care Services

The six significant primary health care services are the following:

Health Education

This is crucially important in preventing diseases and promoting health. Health education includes ongoing teaching, advice, about healthy behaviors such as personal hygiene, proper nutrition, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and others.

Promotion of the Environment

FHAs can take an active role in preserving population health by protecting the natural, physical, and socio-economic conditions in which people live and work.

It ensures communities are clean, safe, and socially interconnected to assist in the prevention of diseases and the preservation of good health.

Prevention and Control of Local Diseases

It starts with sickness recognition and includes acceleration, treatment of pervasive or endemic health issues peculiar to a community.

Vital organization and oversight can contribute to the correct and successful implementation of childhood immunizations. It includes pressing emergency immunizations, for example, following a diphtheria episode.

Provision of Basic Health Services

It must include at least 80% of the population and provide services such as pre-natal care, primary care, emergency care, and diagnostics.

Utmost care and appropriate attentiveness should be given to patients. It ensures accurate diagnostics, effective prescriptions, and the implementation of efficient and effective health care services where appropriate.


Proper nutrition keeps a person healthy and prevents chronic health conditions in the short and long run. It also exposes the community to being more mentally prepared when facing unexpected challenges.

Safe Drinking-Water and Basic Sanitation

Innovative ways of providing safe drinking water and sanitation services should be encouraged to improve public health. Infrastructure development and water supply management or maintenance require appropriate treatment.

Several safety processes should be put in place at all phases. There should be specialized support given to waste disposal, tracking, and damming of the melioration of ancient and current approaches.

Successful and competent networks on overall water administration and sanitation can drive healthy and hygienic living.

Major Principles of PHC

The central principles of PHC were prominently outlined in the Alma-Ata Declaration held during the 1978 International Conference on Primary Health Care in Kazakhstan.


PHC services must be available at an affordable cost, within a reasonable distance, and within the working hours of the health facilities, if possible.

Functional guidance through a closer commitment to public service, especially at the health care sector's leading edge, is a crucial enabler in fundamental health insurance.


It must be fair and provide reasonable opportunities for all patients to access and benefit from the services it offers, regardless of their background or financial means. It should focus on groups in society that are often disadvantaged.

It should address health inequity. It must also provide protection against the financial crisis for accessible medical care.

Appropriate Technology

Healthcare technology should meet the needed health priorities as it helps increase productivity. It permits more serious use of skilled manpower at every level of health services.

It is essential to stress the sensible social, medical, and financial security choices in the development and reflection if PHC's supportive accuracy is to be managed and updated.

Community Participation

It is important to recognize the significance of community involvement in making decisions about their healthcare.

This principle sees communities as strengths and units for action. It acknowledges and values the power of joining. They must participate in identifying their own health problems. They must plan, implement, and assess solutions.

Intersectoral Collaboration

It is an essential part of implementing policies that impact health and must include other sectors such as education, food, agriculture, industry, and communication.

Lady Roslyn Carter once said, “There is only one glaring, chronic problem in the United States of America in its struggles to build a better society.

That problem is directing its resources to where they are required most: toward leaving the weakest behind, going up against the toughest problems, building capabilities, or providing access or chance.


PHC must be delivered in a way that is self-sustaining, meets the changing health needs of society, and continues to be effective in addressing those needs.

It will focus on improving health and social welfare in developing countries, not at the expense of sacrificing the essential abilities necessary to ensure growth and development to support and take advantage of.

## Examples of PHC

PHC provides many crucial services like providing access to healthcare to everyone no matter their economic status, assurance that basic medical services are available, and assisting in preventing diseases through educating the public.

Another example of how important PHC is involves the 2011 million Ethiopian shipment efforts contributed during the drought and famine. Suggestions for better awareness of the preventive endowment of PHC seem to prevail.

Kids were highlighting basic skill sharpening. They should learn to think carefully about what method is appropriate to make the most effective estimation of service requirements.

Children can then emphasize the self-maintenance of all MoH guidelines on non-complex case operation. Nurses and DHAs who have been trained adequately in PHC consistently reach the levels of basic care.

Challenges of PHC

Some of the challenges include insufficient funding and resources for PHC programs. There are shortages in healthcare workers, most especially in clinical doctors, midwives, nurses, and community health workers.

There is also a lack of medical supplies and equipment and other essential healthcare infrastructure which makes it difficult to provide the necessary services.

The access, quality, and efficiency of PHC services are also compromised. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified inequalities and highlighted the vulnerability of primary healthcare systems around the world.

With limited resources, PHC is finding it challenging to meet the increasing demands for healthcare and balance the needs of COVID 19-related services with ongoing healthcare needs.

Case Study: The Impact of Primary Health Care on Mary's Well-being

Mary is a 45-year-old woman who has been struggling with multiple health issues for the past few years. She has been dealing with chronic pain, high blood pressure, and obesity. Due to her busy work schedule and lack of awareness about primary health care services, Mary has been neglecting her health and relying solely on over-the-counter medications to manage her symptoms.

However, things took a turn for the worse when Mary started experiencing severe chest pain. Alarmed, she rushed to the emergency department, where doctors diagnosed her with a heart condition that required immediate treatment. This incident made Mary realize the importance of proactive healthcare and the need to establish a relationship with a primary care provider.

Mary decided to visit a primary health care clinic near her workplace. During her first appointment, she was warmly welcomed by Dr. Johnson, a primary care physician who took the time to listen to her concerns and thoroughly assess her health. Dr. Johnson not only addressed Mary's immediate concerns but also developed a comprehensive care plan to manage her chronic conditions effectively.

Over the course of several months, Mary's health significantly improved under the guidance of Dr. Johnson. She received regular check-ups, medication adjustments, and lifestyle recommendations to support her overall well-being. Dr. Johnson also referred her to a nutritionist and a physical therapist who played crucial roles in helping her manage her weight and pain.

Through her experience with primary health care, Mary learned the importance of preventive care, early intervention, and holistic approaches to health. She now understands that primary care services are not only focused on treating acute illnesses but also on promoting overall well-being and managing chronic conditions effectively.

Mary's story highlights the transformative impact that primary health care can have on an individual's life. It emphasizes the importance of establishing a long-term relationship with a primary care provider who can provide personalized care, ongoing support, and comprehensive health management.

Bottom Line

Primary Health Care is an essential, holistic approach to healthcare that considers the social, economic, and environmental factors that influence health.

It ensures that people have access to lifelong, affordable, and quality healthcare services. It also focuses on disease prevention and the promotion of overall well-being.

The Alma Ata in 1978 declared the central principles of PHC to be community involvement, equity, appropriate technology, preventive care, health promotion, multi-sectorial collaboration, and sustainability.

PHC services include primary care services, health promotion, disease prevention, and emergency care. There are several challenges to implementing PHC and meeting the increasing need for healthcare services.

Addressing these challenges is essential for a sustainable healthcare system that is responsive to the needs of all individuals and communities.

Q & A

What is PHC?

PHC stands for Primary Health Care, a comprehensive approach to healthcare that focuses on prevention, treatment, and community involvement.

Who benefits from PHC?

Everyone benefits from PHC, as it promotes equitable access to essential healthcare services for all individuals, regardless of their social or economic status.

How does PHC work?

PHC works by providing a range of healthcare services, including health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation, through a coordinated and integrated approach.

What are the key principles of PHC?

The key principles of PHC include accessibility, community involvement, health promotion, intersectoral collaboration, and appropriate technology.

What are the challenges to implementing PHC?

Challenges to implementing PHC include limited resources, inadequate infrastructure, lack of trained healthcare workers, and inadequate funding.

Isn't PHC too expensive to implement?

While implementing PHC may require initial investments, it is actually a cost-effective approach in the long run, as it focuses on prevention and early intervention, reducing the need for expensive treatments.

Jacob Anderson is a renowned public health expert and researcher with over 20 years of experience in the field. With a PhD in Public Health from a prestigious university, Jacob Anderson has dedicated their career to understanding and improving primary health care systems.

Throughout their extensive research, Jacob Anderson has published numerous articles and studies on primary health care, focusing on the services, principles, and challenges associated with it. Their work has been widely recognized and cited by experts in the field.

Jacob Anderson has also collaborated with international organizations and government agencies to develop and implement effective primary health care programs in various countries. Their hands-on experience in the field has allowed them to witness firsthand the impact of primary health care on individuals and communities.

With a strong emphasis on evidence-based research, Jacob Anderson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the topic of primary health care. Their ability to translate complex concepts into accessible information makes them a trusted authority in the field.

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