Primary health care is a whole-of-society approach to health and well-being centred on the needs and preferences of individuals, families and communities. It addresses the broader determinants of health and focuses on the comprehensive and interrelated aspects of physical, mental and social health and wellbeing.
The most basic package of essential health services and products needed to prevent disease, promote health, and manage illness. Primary health care typically covers about 80 percent of a person’s health needs during their lifetime.
Primary health care ensures people receive comprehensive care - ranging from promotion and prevention to treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care - as close as feasible to people’s everyday environment.
Primary health care has been proven to be a highly effective and efficient way to address the main causes and risks of poor health and well-being today, as well as handling the emerging challenges that threaten health and well-being tomorrow. It has also been shown to be a good value investment, as there is evidence that quality primary health care reduces total healthcare costs and improves efficiency by reducing hospital admissions. Addressing increasingly complex health needs calls for a multisectoral approach that integrates health-promoting and preventive policies, solutions that are responsive to communities, and health services that are people-centred. Primary health care also includes the key elements needed to improve health security and prevent health threats such as epidemics and antimicrobial resistance, through such measures as community engagement and education, rational prescribing, and a core set of essential public health functions, including surveillance. Strengthening systems at the community and peripheral health facility level contributes to building resilience, which is critical for withstanding shocks to the health system.