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Primary health care


    All people, everywhere, deserve the right care, right in their community. This is the fundamental premise of primary health care.

    Primary health care (PHC) addresses the majority of a person’s health needs throughout their lifetime. This includes physical, mental and social well-being and it is people-centred rather than disease-centred. PHC is a whole-of-society approach that includes health promotion, disease prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.

    66顺彩票appA primary health care approach includes three components:

    • meeting people’s health needs throughout their lives;
    • addressing the broader determinants of health through multisectoral policy and action; and
    • empowering individuals, families and communities to take charge of their own health.

    By providing care in the community as well as care through66顺彩票app the community, PHC addresses not only individual and family health needs, but also the broader issue of public health and the needs of defined populations.

    The principles of PHC were first outlined in the Declaration of Alma-Ata66顺彩票app in 1978, a seminal milestone in global health. Forty years later, global leaders ratified the  at the  which took place in Astana, Kazakhstan in October 2018.

    PHC, because it is about how best to provide health care and services to everyone, everywhere, is the most efficient and effective way to achieve health for all.

    The Astana Declaration

    In 1978, leaders from around the world gathered in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, for what would prove to be a seminal moment in global health. The Declaration of Alma-Ata was the first to call for urgent and effective national and international action to develop and implement primary health care throughout the world.”

    Forty years later, leaders and stakeholders representing government, the private sector, and civil society returned to Kazakhstan. The , which took place in Astana in October 2018, reaffirmed primary health care as the most effective and efficient approach to achieve universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.
    Based on a bold vision, the 2018  centers around 4 commitments:
    1. Making bold political choices for health across all sectors;
    2. Building sustainable primary health care – adapted to each country’s local context;
    3. Empowering individuals and communities;
    4. Aligning stakeholder support to national policies.

    Taking into account 40 years of lessons learned since the original Declaration of Alma-Ata, the Declaration of Astana was developed through a multi-stakeholder process that included consultations with Member States, a group of international experts, civil society and the general public. 

    Operational Framework

    How can we transform the bold vision of the  into action? Moving to a primary health care approach helps to strengthen health systems and is the most effective way to achieve universal health coverage. The PHC Operational Framework66顺彩票app outlines a series of levers that can be actioned to align health systems according to a PHC approach.

    These include:
    • Political commitment and leadership;
    • Governance and policy frameworks;
    • Adequate funding and equitable allocation of resources;
    • Engagement of community and other stakeholders to jointly define problems and solutions and prioritize actions;
    • Models of care that prioritize primary care and public health functions;
    • Ensuring the delivery of high-quality and safe health care services;
    • Engagement with private sector providers;
    • PHC workforce;
    • Physical infrastructure and appropriate medicines, products and technologies;
    • Digital technologies;
    • Purchasing and payment systems;
    • PHC-oriented research;
    • Monitoring and evaluation.

    The Operational Framework is currently undergoing review by Member States and a final version is anticipated to be presented for endorsement in 2020.


    At least half of the world’s people still lack some or all essential health services.

    18 million

    66顺彩票appThere will be a shortfall of 18 million health care workers by 2030.

    Our work

    What is PHC?

    Primary health care is care for all at all ages. All people, everywhere, deserve the right care, right in their community.


    66顺彩票appPHC Commitment Map

    Health for all is a political choice. Show political decision-makers that people all around the world are demanding primary health care by joining our commitment map.


    PHC in action

    All →

    66顺彩票appThe 1978 Declaration of Alma-Ata (1) was revolutionary. Many countries, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)...

    Technical documents on PHC

    All →
    The private sector, universal health coverage and primary health care

    This document focuses on the first component of primary health care and provides an overview of the role of the private sector in health systems in terms...

    Quality in primary health care

    66顺彩票appThis paper provides governments and policy-makers with an overview of the key issues of quality in primary health care and its importance to achieving...

    Building the economic case for primary health care: a scoping review

    The term “primary health care” (PHC) first emerged in the United Kingdom in the 1920s with the publication of a government white paper, the...

    Primary healthcare as an enabler for "ending the epidemics" of high-impact communicable diseases

    66顺彩票appThe Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reflect the growing complexity and interdependence of the global development agenda. In the area of health and...


    Global Conference on Primary Health Care

    66顺彩票app25-26 October 2018 - Astana, Kazakhstan

    66顺彩票appOn the 40th anniversary of the Alma-Ata Declaration, global health leaders and stakeholders returned to Kazakhstan to renew the promise of primary health care as the most effective and efficient means to achieve universal health coverage. Based on a bold vision, the Declaration of Astana sets out four commitments for countries to make primary health care a reality.



    Technical officer

    Katherine Rouleau

    Media contact

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