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Role of Primary Health Care

A Detailed Study on the Role of Primary Health Care in Medical Sciences

Primary care is the first and foremost important interaction of a patient with the health care system. It equips individuals with the sources which are mandatory for good health, i.e., the right information and health care techniques to maintain good health conditions. The professionals in Primary Healthcare include doctors and medical professionals who deal with multiple healthcare issues. Primary healthcare officials deal with a large segment of people from various backgrounds and various health conditions. Thus the professionals in primary health care have vast knowledge about the diseases, treatments, and social conditions of their patients.

What is the Purpose of Primary Health Care?

Primary health care is the most important and initial tier of a health care system. Primary health care is designed to provide patients with easy access to health care facilities. The underlying purpose is to ensure the optimum health of all the members of society, community, and nation. Primary health care focuses on diseases or the well-being of an individual as a whole. Instead of focusing on individuals or specific organs, primary health care focuses on the general state of health of an individual as a whole. If there is something wrong, then specific investigations are carried out to find the details of the ailment.

Role of Primary Health Practitioner According to WHO:

World Health Organization (WHO) has laid several rules for ensuring that primary health care practitioners perform their role efficiently.

1.      Decreasing social or ethnic disparities within the healthcare system

2.      Covering health care on a wider level

3.      Provision of sufficient services to fulfill health demands

4.      To train and teach future healthcare leaders

5.      Increasing the ratio of commitment and participation of all health care team members and patients and all those who are part of the primary health care system in any domain.

Thus, primary healthcare physicians are responsible for the overall well-being of their patients and also for managing minor health conditions. Based on the assessment and diagnosis, they decide on the referral of patients to appropriate healthcare specialists as per need.

Pros of Primary Health Care:

Primary health care as a whole is responsible for taking care of the general health of patients and also monitoring the financial burden on the health care system. Among the numerous advantages of the primary healthcare system are:

1.      Better health outcomes

2.      Preventive healthcare facilities

3.      Decreasing the burden on specialists

4.      The decreasing ratio of tertiary health care burden

Hurdles in Primary Health Care:

Despite the numerous benefits of primary health care, there are various barriers to the provision of efficient primary health care services. Challenges faced on a day-to-day basis include:

1.      Shortage of primary healthcare facilities

2.      Rapidly growing population

3.      Scarcity of available resources

Who Constitutes Primary Health Care Team?

Various people that become part of the primary health care provision team include

1.      Primary physician

2.      Nurse

3.      Gynecologist

4.      Medicine doctor

5.      Pediatrician

6.      Geriatrician

7.      Obstetrician

All of these practitioners work in harmony to ensure the proper health care for patients. If you are looking for a primary health care practitioner, you need to visit any primary health care center in your vicinity. There are various primary health care centers in almost all cities, like New York, Chelsea, and Manhattan. Visit any of your nearby primary care centers if you notice any symptoms.

Primary Care Medicine:

If you are feeling distressed, discomfort, or any other sign of mental or physical ailment, you should instantly be looking for primary care medicine. Primary care medicine is a combination of integrated health services provided to the patient at a maximum level of ease and comfort. Governments throughout the world focus a lot on strengthening the network of primary health care. As primary health care is the basic tier of the health system, it can reduce the burden on the overall health care system enormously. It can also ensure the provision of the best healthcare services to people at all levels of the healthcare system. According to the guidelines put forth by the World Health Organization (WHO), ensuring the well-being and health of humans across the planet is the most important goal in the list of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Relationship of Physician and Patient in Primary Health Care:

The relationship between physician and patient in primary health care is based on the element of trust. Mutual trust and respect are the bedrock of this nexus. This is the first step where the patient is introduced to a formal health care system, so the practitioner must make the environment as calm and comforting as possible. The patient should be treated in a manner that strengthens his trust in the health care system. The patient also, on the other hand, needs to trust his practitioner and narrate to the practitioner all the signs and symptoms that he observes. The patient should not try to hide any pertinent information from the physician and should narrate all of the problems he faces without any hesitation.

Primary Health Care- Inside Out:

If we wish to know the inside and out of the primary health care system in a gist, we need to know the basic fact that the primary health care system is our main savior when it comes to any health issues.  The primary health care physician is the team leader of primary health care services,s and he needs to monitor all his fellow team members to produce maximum benefits. Primary health care is a system that requires an equal contribution from all the members of the team as the success of a system relies on the efficient performance of all the members. The patient is also an important part of this team, and liaison between patient and practitioner guarantees the harvesting of true benefits of the primary health care system.

Principles of Primary Health Care:

Primary health care helps in improving the general health and wellness of society. It encompasses other components other than the mere provision of health care services. It helps in making situations to help the community stay healthy. Canada is considered the best country for advanced health care services. The journey began in 1986 in Ottawa, when Canada first hosted the first international conference on health promotion. The famous “Ottawa Charter” was presented at this meeting. The seminal document laid out a plan on how to improve the general outcome of public health care throughout the world.

Role of Primary Health Care in the Overall Health System:

Primary health care is considered an introductory institution of the entire health care system. The purpose of primary health care is to screen the community for communicable and lethal diseases. The second purpose is to treat minor diseases at their facility, thereby reducing the burden on the secondary and tertiary health care systems. Diseases like sore throat, fever, toothache, diarrhea, constipation, etc could be treated there and then. Moreover, vaccination and other precautionary measures could also be taken at the primary care level. While investigating or diagnosing, if the general physician finds anything that requires treatment from specialists, then the case is referred to the next level of the health care system, i.e., secondary care hospitals, also known as Basic Health Units.

Primary Health Care in the United States:

Primary healthcare has played a very important role in managing the entire healthcare system in the United States. In first-world countries like the United States, the entire health system model is designed keeping in mind the individual needs of the patients and health care professionals both. The system has room for accommodating changes and bearing the maximum burden as well. This is the reason for the successful running of the system. The health care system is integrated and based on online services instead of manual records only. All members of the community are registered with the primary care system according to the locality they live in. Communities are designed keeping in mind demographics and other key parameters important for the health care system. This helps the government with monitoring and managing the burden of the population in a health care system. The rising population is also controlled and monitored by utilizing and involving the primary health care team of the area. This system thus ensures efficiency, efficacy, and large-scale benefit for people.

Services Provided at Primary Health Care Centers:

Various services provided by primary health care include:

1.      Promotion of sound health

2.      Services of diagnosis and treatment

3.      Ensuring timely and appropriate intervention as and when required

4.      Decreasing health issues

5.      Management of long-term diseases like diabetes, arthritis, etc

·        Diagnosis:

Primary care plays a very important role in pursuing a diagnosis of diseases at an early stage. Blood tests like complete blood count (CBC) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) help to find if there is any issue in the blood picture. Depending on the results of blood tests and various other tests like fasting sugar level tests, urine tests help practitioners in the diagnosis and proceeding further of the case.

·        Intervention:

Timely intervention is considered one of the most important parameters in ensuring the safety and health of a patient. Primary health care is available to the patient without any delay, so it helps the practitioner identify any potential health risks for the patient. For example, any abnormality in the ECG test suggests some serious underlying cardiac issue that needs urgent consideration and treatment. The practitioner at the primary health care service then immediately takes the required action and also refers the patient to a cardiac specialist (cardiologist) without any delay. Similarly, other emergencies like sudden drops or spikes in blood pressure are also effectively managed at the primary health care center.  Moreover, sudden attacks like angina pectoris are also manageable at primary healthcare centers.

·        Decreasing health issues

One of the prime responsibilities of the primary health care system is to control the burden of diseases in a community. By timely treating any arising health issues in the concerned community, primary care can effectively control the disease ratio in society. Many epidemic diseases can be effectively controlled and monitored using primary health care. Primary care acts as a barrier here in preventing diseases like polio, measles, and diphtheria by ensuring timely vaccination and effective treatment.

·        Promotion of Sound Health

The promotion of sound health is one of the agendas of the primary health care system. The primary health care system is based on services to ensure the good health of the community. Primary care arranges programs and seminars for propagating the message of good health and ways to attain a healthy mind and a healthy body in society. Some primary healthcare centers also have services of gyms and physiotherapy centers to ensure the provision of healthy activities to people in the community.

·        Management of long-term diseases

Diseases that persist for a lifetime, like diabetes, blood pressure, arthritis, etc., are treated and managed well at primary healthcare centers. Once an endocrinologist prescribes the units of insulin or oral hypoglycemic quantity, follow-up visits at primary health care centers can help the patient manage his or her blood glucose level. Similarly, arthritis patients could be monitored for their uric acid levels at primary health care centers. If fluctuations in the reports occur, the primary care prescriber can effectively manage and refer the patient immediately to the concerned specialist to ensure timely care and treatment of the patient. This role of primary care makes a patient’s life convenient, and it becomes easy for a patient to manage the disease.


The primary care system is one of the leading tiers of health services and has played a significant role in all countries of the world in reducing the health care burden and managing diseases. It also played an efficient role in providing basic care to people, thereby resolving their queries and health conditions early and without much expenditure. The concept of community medicine or community pharmacy is also gaining popularity among healthcare professionals throughout the world. Primary care is thus a life-saving and unavoidable part of the health care system.

– Disclaimer –
This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 08/26/2021

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  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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