Primary Health Care Definition, Goal, Principles and Strategies


The Alma Ata Conference defines Primary Health Care as essential health care based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally, accessible to individuals and families in the community by means of acceptable to them, through their full participation and at a cost that community and country can afford to maintain at every stage of their development in the spirit of self-reliance and self-determination. It forms an integral part of both the country’s health system, of which it is the central function and the main focus and of the overall social and economic development of the community.


  • The global goal as stated in the Alma Ata Declaration is Health for All by the year 2000 through self-reliance.
  • Health begins at home, in schools and in the workplace because it is there where people live and work that health is made or broken.
  • It also means that people will use better approaches than they do now for preventing diseases and alleviating unavoidable disease and disability and have better ways of growing up, growing old and dying gracefully.
  • It also means that here will be even distribution among the population of whatever resources for health are available.
  • It means that essential health services will be accessible to all individuals and families in an acceptable and affordable way.

Principles and Strategies:

  1. Accessibility, Availability, Affordability and Acceptability of Health Services
    • Strategies:
      • Health services delivered where the people are
      • Use of indigenous/resident volunteer health worker as a health care provider with a ratio of one community health worker per 10-20 households
      • Use of traditional (herbal medicine) with essential drugs.
  2. Provision of quality, basic and essential health services
    • Strategies:
      • Training design and curriculum based on community needs and priorities.
      • Attitudes, knowledge and skills developed are on promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health care.
      • Regular monitoring and periodic evaluation of community health workers performance by the community and health staff.
  3. Community Participation
    • Strategies:
      • Awareness, building and consciousness raising on health and health-related issues.
      • Planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation done through small group meetings (10-20 households cluster)
      • Selection of community health workers by the community.
      • Formation of health committees.
      • Establishment of a community health organization at the parish or municipal level.
      • Mass health campaigns and mobilization to combat health problems.
  4. Self-reliance
    • Strategies
      • Community generates support (cash, labor) for health programs.
      • Use of local resources (human, financial, material)
      • Training of community in leadership and management skills.
      • Incorporation of income generating projects, cooperatives and small scale industries.
  5. Recognition of interrelationship of health and development
    • Strategies:
      • Convergence of health, food, nutrition, water, sanitation and population services.
      • Integration of PHC into national, regional, provincial, municipal and barangay development plans.
      • Coordination of activities with economic planning, education, agriculture, industry, housing, public works, communication and social services.
      • Establishment of an effective health referral system.
  6. Social Mobilization
    • Strategies
      • Establishment of an effective health referral system.
      • Multi-sectoral and interdisciplinary linkage.
      • Information, education, communication support using multi-media.
      • Collaboration between government and non-governmental organizations.
  7. Decentralization
    • Strategies
      • Reallocation of budgetary resources.
      • Reorientation of health professional and PHC.
      • Advocacy for political and support from the national leadership down to the barangay level.

8 Essential Health Services in Primary Health Care (ELEMENTS)

  1. E – Education for Health
  2. L – Locally endemic disease control
  3. E – Expanded program for immunization
  4. M – Maternal and Child Health including responsible parenthood
  5. E – Essential drugs
  6. N – Nutrition
  7. T – Treatment of communicable and non-communicable diseases
  8. S – Safe water and sanitation

Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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