The first level of contact with people taking action to improve health in a community.
PHC is essential health care made accessible at a cost the country can afford, with methods that are practical, scientifically sound, and socially acceptable. Everyone in the community should have access to it and everyone should be involved in it. Related sectors in addition to the health sector should also be involved. At the very least, it should include education for the community on the prevalent health problems and on methods to prevent health problems from arising or to control them; the promotion of adequate supplies of food and proper nutrition; sufficient safe water and basic sanitation; maternal and child health care, including family planning; the prevention and control of local endemic diseases; immunization against the main infectious diseases; appropriate treatment of common diseases; and the provision of essential drugs.
PHC is the central function and the main focus of a country's health system. It is an integral part of the social and economic development of a country. The essential difference between the WHO concept of PHC and the concept of basic health services is that PHC is a process concerned with equity, intersectoral action, and community participation and involvement in order to secure health gain
. It is not merely the professional delivery of medical care at the local level. Involvement means that individuals and families assume responsibility for their own — as well as for the community's — health and welfare, and develop the capacity to contribute to their own and to the community's development.
Investment in this process is more efficient, effective, acceptable, and sustainable than other ways of promoting health gain within local communities. The concept is consistent with the core values increasingly seen as essential to development: life sustenance, self-esteem, and freedom to be able to choose.
Adapted from World Health Organization. Terminology. A glossary of technical terms on the economics and finance of health services. Internet. Accessed December 18, 2015.