Primary Healthcare Essential to Post-Pandemic Recovery
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Primary Healthcare Essential to Post-Pandemic Recovery

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Sofía Garduño By Sofía Garduño | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Mon, 07/24/2023 - 11:18

In the wake of the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic, primary healthcare is emerging as an indispensable pillar for global recovery and resilience. PAHO highlights that primary healthcare is key to the building of resilient healthcare systems for the future.

“As the eyes and ears of the health system, strong primary healthcare has a vital dual function, in helping to protect communities against both pandemics and everyday health threats,” says Tedros Adhanom, Director General, WHO. 

Primary healthcare has been recognized as the principal strategy to address health challenges since the 1978 Alma-Ata Declaration. However, these services were hampered by the pandemic. A renewed focus on this primary care will be instrumental in amplifying vaccination coverage and bolstering efforts to combat communicable diseases. 

“We must go beyond political declarations and aspirational statements and translate theory into practice,” says Jarbas Barbosa, Director, PAHO. 

Countries should invest the minimum recommended 6% of their Gross Domestic Product in healthcare, placing a particular emphasis on directing resources toward primary care, says Barbosa. Equally significant is the need to ensure that funding reaches the most vulnerable populations. Moreover, to ensure the right to health for all, countries must explore innovative methods beyond technology and digital health. 

Primary care in Latin America and the Caribbean lags behind other health systems in the OECD, lacking comprehensive coverage, quality and a wide range of services for the entire population, reports the OECD. System fragmentation and resource bottlenecks pose significant challenges, hindering their ability to meet evolving healthcare demands, leaving ample room for improvement in the quality and scope of primary care services.

In Mexico, there is a pressing need to reinforce primary care as a fundamental pillar for comprehensive and equitable medical attention. “The country has underinvested in healthcare and needs to double its budget, at least, to guarantee a basic package of high-quality primary care services,” says Éctor Ramírez-Barba, Federal Representative of the LXV Legislature 2021-2024, to MBN. 

Another urgent need is the proper training of medical personnel at the primary level to meet new healthcare needs, explains Jorge Eugenio Valdez, Dean, School of Medicine Tecnológico de Monterrey. The preparation of healthcare staff plays a fundamental role in strengthening healthcare services, as it results in a significant improvement in early diagnosis, effective treatment and comprehensive management of medical conditions.

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