Primary Sources

Introducing "Primary Sources"

We are witnessing in real-time the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic around the globe, posing the most serious, world-wide challenge since Alma Ata to the goal of health for all. Colleagues have reached out about the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the need for more knowledge in managing this crisis, while researchers have rushed to collect and disseminate knowledge and lessons learned.  It has been both heart wrenching and reassuring to see and read and hear so many stories of the dedication and commitment of those on the front lines, caring for patients and fighting this pandemic.

As the world faces this crisis together, PHCPI, in partnership with Wonca and AfroPHC, are pleased to bring you our new blog series, “Primary Sources”. We’ll highlight stories from across the globe, focusing on:
•    how countries are mobilizing their PHC systems to respond to COVID-19;
•    how the pandemic is impacting the delivery of essential PHC services; and 
•    key experiences and lessons learned that can help others in similar situations.  

Each week, we will feature voices of practitioners and others on the front lines of PHC who are working tirelessly to keep this pandemic at bay and to continue to deliver essential health care.  We will connect you to the perspectives of those dedicated to PHC measurement, delivery and improvement across the globe, and hope you will find ways to build on their experiences to advance PHC as the foundation of health for all.

The world is changing before our eyes.  Issues of testing, public use of masks, PPE, intensive care unit (ICU) beds and ventilators, and concerns of overwhelmed hospitals and “flattening the curve” through physical distancing are front-and-center in the global media.  Countries that are only beginning to face the pandemic are trying to determine what immediate decisions and reallocations of resources they need to make.  

Amidst all of this, we must work to maintain the momentum from Astana, and ensure that the clear global and national commitments made to PHC for UHC are not left behind as the crisis consumes us.  It is natural to focus on pandemic surveillance, hospital-based care, and ventilators  – as well as vaccines and therapeutics – in this moment.  But while hospitals and ICUs may be a critical last line of defense for individuals, they are not the primary tools needed to prevent or fight pandemics on a population-wide basis.

That is why strong PHC is as necessary as ever. PHC systems, and the providers, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, community health workers, and many others who power them, are responding to this pandemic through testing, contact tracing and patient management, all the while focused on maintaining high-quality delivery of other essential health services. This will help to prevent a second tragedy of COVID-19 – the collateral damage of increased sickness and death from non-COVID-19 related causes resulting from reduced access to care.

PHC systems around the world have been adapting to this new reality.  Already, access to and application of telemedicine and technological supports have become crucial to augmenting the provision of health services in many regions; this is likely to grow in years to come.  We will see additional creative solutions emerge as this crisis unfolds; from new ways of managing patient flow in primary care facilities, to innovations that ensure the most at-risk among us can continue to receive quality care with dignity.  As our new global reality emerges, we must keep in mind the fundamental challenges to health systems that may have contributed to the spread of this pandemic and the challenges we all face in responding to crisis while maintaining essential health services -- and we must share and amplify local examples of success that we can build upon.  We believe one of the best places to begin is with Primary Sources.

We are eager to partner with other organizations on the front lines of primary health care delivery.  Please reach out to if you’d like to work together to bring Primary Sources to life.  If you are an individual who would like Primary Sources to feature your experience and lessons learned, kindly fill out this quick survey form.