What Are the Principles of Primary Health Care?

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  • Written By: Nicky Sutton
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 June 2014
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Primary health care 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 primary health care whenever they need it. Under the principles, primary care should be organized and distributed to minimize costs, so that health care is affordable and accessible.

One of the overriding principles of primary health care is that it is the first point of contact for people should they experience illness. If a patient has a bad back, he could utilize primary health care by visiting a doctor or nurse. Principles of primary health care state that it must be accessible by all people, regardless of factors such as socio-economic background, color, race or sexuality.

The World Health Organization (WHO) works towards helping countries to provide excellent health care for all people. They set out goals and principles for primary health care for organizations and communities to work towards, in their "Health for All" strategy. According to these goals, no one should be excluded from receiving primary health care and social discrimination should be eliminated. Medical care must be fairly distributed among all people, no matter where they live or their social class.


Effective and regular training is a principle, along with developing the primary health care work force. It also involves working with communities to make the most of the contributions individuals can make to their own health and the health of their communities. People's needs should be investigated and taken into account when organizing and distributing primary health services. The needs of the patients are more important than the needs of the organization.

Further principles of primary health care include shaping public policy to reflect health care goals so that there are guidelines and targets to work towards. "Healthy" public policy should be a part of all sectors, for example in production of healthy food, in educating people on how to live healthy lives, and in public amenities such as waste removal. Empowering people to keep healthy is part of primary health care. Health promotion can prevent many illnesses from occurring in the first place.

Those who use primary health care should be encouraged to have a say on how services are provided. Technology is also taken into account, as it must be appropriate and affordable and not push up the price of health care. Primary health care should be affordable to individuals and the country as a whole so that it remains accessible and the very poor are not excluded.


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