The Primary Health Care Approach

The World Health Organization (WHO) adopted the primary health care approach as the basis for effective delivery of health services. The primary health care approach is both a philosophy of health care and an approach to providing health services, and embraces five types of care: promotive; preventive; curative; rehabilitative; and supportive.  The principles of primary health care are accessibility, public participation, health promotion, appropriate technology and intersectoral cooperation.

Accessibility means that the five types of health care are universally available to all clients regardless of geographical location.

Public participation means clients are encouraged to participate in making decisions about their own health, in identifying the health needs of their community, and in considering the merits of alternative approaches to addressing those needs.

Health promotion involves health education, nutrition, sanitation, maternal and child health care, immunization, prevention and control of disease. The goal of health promotion is to reduce the demands for curative and rehabilitative care.

Appropriate technology means that modes of care are appropriately adapted to the community’s social, economic and cultural development.  Adoption of the principle of appropriate technology highlights the importance of improved knowledge and of on-going capacity building to the design and delivery of health care services.

Intersectoral cooperation recognizes that health and well-being is linked to both economic and social policy Intersectoral cooperation is needed to establish national and local health goals, healthy public policy, and the planning and evaluation of health services.

The goal of nursing practice is to improve the health of clients, and in working to that goal, nurses must apply the five principles of the primary health care approach.   In delivering each type of care, under the primary health care approach, the focus is on prevention and promotion of health.

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