The Foundation to COVID-19 Recovery and Building Healthy Communities
Two years ago, world leaders met at the Global Conference on Primary Health Care in Astana, Kazakhstan, and marked their commitment to strengthen primary health care (PHC) as the cornerstone of resilient health systems and the most effective pathway toward health for all.
Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has made acting on those commitments more urgent than ever. According to an article in the British Medical Journal, this pandemic is officially “the most disruptive event for health systems across the world in a century. It has forced health systems to tackle a new infectious disease, protect health workers and patients, and figure out how to still deliver essential health services.” It has had a dramatic effect on people’s lives globally and has preyed on the most vulnerable among us.
The Primary Health Care Performance Initiative advocates that “high-quality primary health care, guided by evidence and data, can be a robust first line of defense against disease outbreaks while maintaining essential health services in times of crisis and in calm.”
Combatting COVID-19 and future health crises depends on high-quality PHC as the first line of defense against outbreaks. Worldwide, we must place stronger PHC at the center of COVID-19 recovery plans and long-term approaches to health security, and urgently recommit to building a foundation of strong PHC systems to become resilient against future disease threats and ensure that health care is accessible for all.
C2C’s mission to bring high-quality PHC in rural Haiti is at the front line of this mobilization. Our founding vision hinged on the fact that primary care is consistently neglected, while it should be the core of a national health care system. In an under-resourced country like Haiti, we have always been working to address the most cost-effective opportunity in improving health outcomes. The answer has always been: access to quality PHC.
There are many lessons learned from this pandemic that we must apply as we emerge from this global challenge. The principle lesson is to prioritize and invest in health systems to build healthy and resilient communities. Strong PHC systems can help to diagnose, track and stop the spread of local outbreaks while providing essential lifesaving health services.