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[The implication of primary health care programs].

  • Martin, J
Published Article
International development review
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1979
PMID: 12336064


A meeting of UNICEF and WHO sponsors at the international conference on primary health care held at Alma Ata in the Soviet Republic of Kazakstan in September of 1978 served to summarize some major points regarding the importance and the nature of primary health care in developing countries. The conference emphasized that primary health care should not be viewed as a second-class medical service system for the poor in developing nations, but rather, the first point of contact between the individual and the health system within an awareness-building process integral to development. Such services should be available and accessible to all members of the community through acceptable means and at a cost which the community and the country can meet. With respect to primary health care programs' design and administration, it was concluded that service should be provided by a team of health care personnel working together with other disciplines and organizations involved in overall national socioeconomic development efforts. The primary health care program requires a substantial share of health resources, and may need a larger share of the total health budget allocations in many countries, perhaps at the expense of hospital and surgical services which do not reach the mass population. This proposition is substantiated by the fact that primary health care is more cost-effective than hospital-based medicine. Pilot programs so far have achieved a dramatic decrease in mortality rates, notably among high risk groups such as preschool age children and mothers. Adequate program design will also require changes in the traditional medical education of doctors and nurses who must not only be technically competent, but also socially and sociologically aware in order to adequately respond to popular needs. A greater stress on community participation was also recommended; the success of village health committees in the past being cited as exemplary in not only dealing with health problems, but also in achieving general community development and solidarity.

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