What is Primary Health Care (PHC)? Type & Principles

Primary Health Care (PHC) is a term that is often thrown around in healthcare discussions, but not many people understand its true meaning. In this article, we will take a closer look at what Primary Health Care is, its principles, the different levels of care, and the healthcare workers involved.

What is Primary Health Care (PHC)?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Primary Health Care is essential healthcare that is made universally accessible to individuals and acceptable to them, through their full participation, and at a cost that the country and community can afford. In simple terms, PHC is the minimum care that needs to be provided to any individual in any medical condition.

Principles of Primary Health Care

There are four principles of Primary Health Care that are essential to understand. They are:

  1. Equitable Distribution: Most healthcare services in India are concentrated in towns and cities. However, the rural areas, which need healthcare services more, hardly have any. PHC aims to redress this imbalance by focusing on rural areas and bringing these services as close to people’s homes as possible.
  2. Community Participation: Without the full participation of the local population, discharging healthcare needs is impossible. Hence, the government of India is training village health guides and local dais from the local community itself. These people, being localities, can overcome the cultural and communication barriers more easily.
  3. Intersectoral Coordination: The government of India has realized that PHC cannot be provided by the healthcare sector alone. The different wings of the government must come together and work in an integrated fashion.
  4. Appropriate Technology: The government spending on healthcare is extremely low, and our public healthcare institutions do not have the money for costly diagnostic tests and treatments. Therefore, PHC in India must rely on low-budget technologies. One such technology is ORS, which is a low-cost treatment for diarrhoea and dehydration.

Levels of Primary Health Care

There are three levels of care in Primary Health Care:

  1. Primary Level: It is the first level of contact between the healthcare setup and the patient. It includes Subcentre and Primary Health Centre.
  2. Secondary Level or 1st Referral Level: It is the Community Health Centre.
  3. Tertiary Level or 2nd Referral Level: It includes Medical Colleges and Hospitals.

Healthcare Workers Involved

The healthcare workers involved in Primary Health Care are:

  1. Health Worker Male
  2. Health Worker Female
  3. Voluntary Worker
  4. Medical Officer
  5. Health Assistant Male
  6. Health Assistant Female
  7. Specialist Doctors, including Physicians, Surgeons, Gynaecologists and Paediatricians
  8. Ophthalmic Surgeon
  9. Anaesthetist
  10. Public Health Programme Manager

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