What is World Health Day?
World Health Day is an annual observance held on April 7th every year. Organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is held on the anniversary of the founding of the WHO. The WHO was established on April 7th, 1948, and World Health Day has been celebrated annually on the same date since 1950 to raise awareness about global health issues and to promote the importance of good health. The theme for each year’s World Health Day is focused on a specific health issue or concern that is of global significance. This year (2023) in addition to focusing on the journey to achieving ‘Health For All’, WHO will also observe its 75th anniversary under the theme 75 years of improving public health.
How does Primary Care fit in to Health For All?
‘Health For All’ is a WHO goal. This goal was popularised in the 1970s and envisions securing the health and well being of people around the world. It is the basis for the WHO’s primary health care strategy to promote health, human dignity, and enhanced quality of life. The concept of primary health care has been repeatedly reinterpreted and redefined in the years since the seventies, leading to confusion about the term and its practice. A clear and simple definition has been developed to facilitate the coordination of future primary health care efforts at the global, national, and local levels and to guide their implementation:
“primary health care is a ‘whole-of-society’ approach to health that aims at ensuring the highest possible level of health and well-being and their equitable distribution by focusing on people’s needs and as early as possible along the continuum from health promotion and disease prevention to treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care, and as close as feasible to people’s everyday environment.”WHO and UNICEF. A vision for primary health care in the 21st century: Towards UHC and the SDGs.
Primary Health Care in developing regions
The state of primary health care in developing regions, according to the WHO, is characterised by a range of challenges and opportunities. Primary health care is recognised as a key component of achieving universal health coverage and improving health outcomes, particularly in low and middle-income countries.
In many developing regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, there are significant gaps in access to essential health services, including primary health care. This is often due to inadequate infrastructure, shortages of trained health care workers, and limited access to essential medicines and medical technologies. There are also significant disparities in health outcomes between rural and urban areas, and between different socio-economic groups.
Despite these challenges, there have been significant efforts to strengthen primary health care in developing regions. Many countries have implemented policies and programmes aimed at expanding access to primary health care services, such as community health worker programmes and mobile health clinics. There have also been efforts to improve the quality and effectiveness of primary health care services, including through the use of digital health technologies and innovations.
Overall, while there is still much work to be done to strengthen primary health care in developing regions. There are also significant opportunities to make progress and improve health outcomes for millions of people.
Primary Health Care in the UK
In contrast, primary healthcare in the UK is generally regarded as being of a high standard. It is often used as a benchmark for other countries to follow. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) provides free primary healthcare services to all residents. The vast majority of people in the UK rely on the NHS as their primary healthcare provider.
The UK’s healthcare system is even compared favourably with those of other developed countries, such as France, Germany, Canada, and Australia. The Commonwealth Fund, a US-based healthcare think tank, ranks the UK’s healthcare system as one of the best in the world in terms of quality, efficiency, and access to care.
However, like any healthcare system, the UK’s NHS faces challenges, including funding and staffing shortages, increasing demand for services, and long waiting times for some procedures. These challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put additional strain on the system.
Where can I meet other Primary Health Care people?
A number of Primary Care Conferences are held thought the year around the UK. They are bringing together primary care professionals, including GPs, nurses, practice managers, and other healthcare providers. These conferences offers a range of educational sessions and networking opportunities, with a focus on discussing and sharing best practices in primary care.
- 25th April – Primary Care Transformation Conference: The Foundations for Better Care
- 17th -18th May Primary Care Health Conference
- 13th June Public Health & Immunisations
- 16th May Management in Practice Conference
At Health Academy our focus is creating courses specifically for Primary Healthcare Professionals! So hopefully we’ll see you at one of these events this year!