New Year, New Primary Health Care Challenges

DRC community health worker World Bank/Dominic Chavez
Countries around the globe have committed to implementing reforms to achieve universal health coverage. Now what?

We’re reminded of the old adage, “easier said than done”. There is no one path to achieving universal health coverage (UHC), since reforms are context-dependent and mobilizing resources for UHC can be challenging due to strained country budgets. However, national governments can ensure access to essential, life-saving interventions through publically financed insurance for essential health care – such as vaccinations and treatment for injuries and non-communicable diseases – services most often found at the primary health care level.  The private sector also plays an active and vital role in the provision of health services.

To support countries on their path toward universal coverage, it is critical that the global community commit to helping countries mobilize domestic resources to develop integrated systems with strong health care teams, information systems, efficient supply chains, and tools to develop purchasing strategies that leverage public and private providers. We also need to proactively equip frontline providers – especially at the primary care level – to deliver high-quality, coordinated, and people-centered health care services."  

Last year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, World Bank Group, World Health Organization, and other partners including Ariadne Labs and Results for Development, partnered to launch the Primary Health Care Performance Initiative (PHCPI). PHCPI brings together country policymakers, health system managers, practitioners, advocates and other development partners to catalyze improvements in primary health care (PHC) in low- and middle-income countries through better measurement and knowledge-sharing.

This year, PHCPI partners will begin working with countries to expand data availability, develop additional indicators to pinpoint underlying challenges, and provide guidance on how to improve their PHC systems. Read on for a snapshot of what we have planned in the months ahead. 

Promote Country-Level Improvement

  • Improving Primary Health Care in Rwanda: PHCPI is working in partnership with the Ministry of Health in Rwanda to better measure the performance of the primary health care system. We are collaborating to build performance dashboards to improve the use of data for decision-making, allow for timely response to urgent issues, and increase the focus on improvement.
  • Looking Forward: PHCPI is also collaborating with other countries on PHC measurement and improvement. We will be providing updates throughout the year.            

Generate and Share Knowledge

  • Joint Learning Network for Universal Health Coverage: PHCPI is launching a cross-country learning collaborative in partnership with the Joint Learning Network for Universal Health Coverage. The collaborative will facilitate joint learning and knowledge sharing around measurement and improvement of PHC system performance between practitioners from a diverse set of countries.
  • Global Stakeholder Convening: The WHO will host a Global Stakeholder Convening in April to bring together country and global PHC representatives to share learnings on PHC measurement and improvement opportunities. The convening will inform the PHC reform efforts of WHO Member States and country engagement efforts of global stakeholders for PHC. 
  • PHC Vital Signs Analytic Report: To highlight current country accomplishments in PHC and highlight data gaps, PHCPI will release an analytic report that explores the drivers of high-performing primary health care systems. Additionally, the report will feature stories of countries working with PHCPI to improve their PHC systems. 

Strengthen Performance Measurement

  • New Indicator Development: To better understand components of health care in the “black box” of service delivery that are not commonly measured, PHCPI is collecting more and better service delivery data through global surveys (PMA2020, Service Delivery Indicators) and national information systems. These data will be published on the PHCPI website as they become available.
  • Health Data Collaborative: In partnership with the Global Fund, PHCPI will lead a work stream on measurement of quality of care for the Health Data Collaborative, which aims to facilitate and accelerate progress in strengthening country systems for monitoring progress and performance for accountability within the context of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The year 2016 promises to be an exciting one for PHCPI, and we look forward to sharing more information about our efforts to support the global movement toward UHC through better primary health care.

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Chloe Lanzara and Erin Fenton are Senior Program Associates at Results for Development.