Partnership to improve primary health care

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, World Bank Group, and World Health Organisation, have launched a new partnership to support countries to improve the performance of primary health care.

The initiative, codenamed Primary Health Care Perform-ance Initiative (PHCPI), will support countries to strengthen monitoring, tracking and sharing of key performance indicators for primary health care.

The collaboration will streng-then primary healthcare and advance progress toward sustainable development goals, a statement issued by the World Bank Group, based in New York, and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, on Monday, explained.

It said primary health care was the pillar of health systems and was central to preventing epidemics like Ebola.

The statement said the move would help to improve the health of women and children, control major infectious diseases, such as HIV and tuberculosis; and manage the rising burden of non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.

It  said there was an urgent need to transform essential health care in low and middle-income countries timely, and explained that some countries had identified primary health care as an urgent priority, but lacked the data needed to make it successful.

The partnership was launched at an event co-hosted by the governments of Germany, Ghana and Norway, where the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, released a new framework, “Roadmap: Healthy systems – Healthy lives,” for global cooperation to strengthen health systems.

The launch of these two complementary initiatives took place, at the UN General Assembly in New York, where the world leaders met at the United Nations’ meeting to adopt 17 sustainable development goals.

PHCPI partners highlighted the far-reaching benefits of stronger primary health care, including as a pathway to universal health coverage.

Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, and co-founder of PHCPI, said, “For the first time, the world has set a goal with specific targets for universal health coverage by 2030.

“To ensure that everyone had access to essential and affordable health services, countries must have strong primary health care systems, and that is how we’ll reach the poorest and most vulnerable people with the care they need, in the most equitable way,” he explained.

Jim Kim noted that the foundation of health systems and primary health care connected people and families with trusted health workers and supportive systems, which provide access to family planning and routine immunisations against chronic conditions.

Ms Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, said,    “When primary health care works, it can meet the vast majority of people’s health needs. Yet Ebola revealed what can happen, starting with primary care, when health systems are broken and in need of repair.”

Ms Chan said closing gaps in primary health care would require adequate data, stressing, “While countries regularly track the total amount of money spent on health care and measure the coverage of select interventions, there is comparatively little monitoring and sharing of data about the performance of primary health care.”

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a co-founder of PHCPI said, “It’s time to get serious about tracking and measuring primary health care performance, so that countries have the data they need to efficiently direct resources to improve the health of their citizens, especially women and children.”

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