Globally, countries have adopted various strategies for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Control measures such as community testing, contact tracing, outbreak communication, isolation, and other public health and social measures have been crucial in slowing down disease transmission and reducing mortality.

As a person’s first entry point into the health system, PHC not only provides a platform for ensuring access to essential and routine healthcare but is also a critical foundation for the direct surveillance, response and management of outbreaks. PHC, by nature of its community orientation, allows for the multi-sectoral action needed to reduce vulnerability and build resilience of communities. The central role of PHC is perhaps best illustrated by the consequences of its absence, as was the case during the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in Guinea, when a lack of trust in PHC led to delays in reporting and treatment of cases which increased morbidity and mortality, and prolonged the duration of the outbreak.

Leveraging PHC for outbreak response is particularly important in low- and middle-income countries where there is often limited access to healthcare overall, and in particular to highly specialized tertiary care and intensive care units that have been the primary focus of COVID-19 response in higher income settings. Below, we highlight  three strategies—drawing from PHCPI’s Improvement Strategies—for how PHC systems can be leveraged for COVID-19 surveillance, response and management.

In addition to these strategies on surveillance, response, and management, users can access COVID-19 Improvement Strategies related to maintaining access to routine and essential services.

PHC systems can help diagnose, track and stop the spread of local outbreaks while providing essential health services.

PHC Advocacy & Engagement Resources

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Toolkit PHCPI Messaging Materials

Foundational messages about how and why stakeholders can – and must – center PHC as a key component of the COVID-19 response.