“Health for all” & Primary Health Care

Health is a fundamental right and it is not reserved for the rich people in the community. The poor people in the community also have the right to be healthy and it is the government’s responsibility to make sure that health services are being delivered ubiquitously to all. But, how do they do that?

Health for All

The member countries of World Health Organization at the 30th world health assembly defined “Health for all” as attainment of a level of health that will enable every person to lead a socially and economically productive life. In 1978, Alma-Ata International conference stated that the best approach to achieve the goal of “health for all” is by providing primary health care especially to the poor people in rural as well as urban areas.

What is Primary health care?

According to the Alma-Ata declaration of 1978, primary health care is defined as –

essential healthcare made universally accessible to all individuals and families in the community, and acceptable to them through their full participation and at a cost the community and country can afford.

Primary health care gives a whole new meaning to healthcare by considering the numerous other factors that plays important roles in shaping good health. It considers environmental, socioeconomic, lifestyle and other relevant factors.

The elements of Primary health care are :

  • Education concerning prevailing health problems and the methods to prevent and control them.
  • Promotion of food supply and proper nutrition.
  • Adequate supply of safe water and basic sanitation.
  • Maternal and child healthcare including family planning.
  • Immunization against major infectious diseases.
  • Prevention and control of locally endemic diseases.
  • Appropriate treatment of common diseases and injuries
  • Provision of essential drugs.


Where to access Primary health care?

It is the responsibility of the government to provide primary health care services to all the citizens. The initial aim of the Alma-Ata declaration was to attain “health for all” by the year 2000. Fifteen years later, we are still wondering why the concept of “health for all” was not achieved in a country like India!

Primary health care services can be made accessible to all the individuals at 3 levels. One must first understand these 3 levels before we answer the big question.

READ : Healthcare in India

The 3 levels of primary health care are :

Primary level : Grass root level of healthcare system which is also the smallest level. It is at theses levels that most of the minor ailments of the people are dealt with and resolved. In India, this level functions at the thousands of Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and their Sub-centres. Being the closest level which is easily accessible for all the people, it is considered as the most effective level of providing healthcare services.

Primary health centres (PHCs) are the smallest institutions delivering primary health care services. Hope you are not confused!

Secondary level : More complex health problems are dealt with at the secondary or intermediate level. Secondary care levels functions as the first referral level and in India, District hospitals, General hospitals, Taluk hospitals provides the secondary services.

Tertiary level : They are more specialised level compared to the secondary care level and require specific facilities and attention of highly specialised healthcare workers. Examples of tertiary level includes Medical colleges, All India Institute of Medical Science, Speciality hospitals etc.

We shall discuss the pitfalls in India’s healthcare system in another topic. How did you like this article? Was it helpful? Leave your comments below.

Reference : Alma-Ata declaration

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