Primary health care refers to the health care you will receive throughout your lifetime. These include your mental, physical, and social well-being. Primary health care is also patient-centered instead of disease-centered. As a result, primary care clinics focus more on the quality of health care services provided regardless of the socio-economic status of their communities. To better understand the importance of primary care clinics, let’s look at the functions of primary health care.

Provide Continuous And Comprehensive Health Services

The main role of primary health care is to provide healthcare services to people for the rest of their lives. As the first point of access to health care services, primary care providers are expected to help patients better understand their health and any medical conditions they’re suffering from. In case a patient requires advanced health care, it’s the responsibility of the primary care provider to refer the patient to specialist physicians.

Comprehensive health care services ensure that patients receive care for all health complications. The continuity of health care services across the board ensures that patients receive coordinated care from different public healthcare providers.

Provides Targeted Health Education And Coaching

Knowledge is power. Individuals with access to information are more likely to accept beneficial change. Therefore, the best way to encourage people to live a healthy life is by providing them with information addressing specific health needs. The teaching of health education is a function primarily carried out by primary health care providers. And with the help of media such as print, internet, radio, and television, the public can access any information they are interested in regarding a particular disease. Primary health care providers have especially focused on providing information on lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cancer, obesity, and stroke because these diseases can be managed by modifying one’s behavior.

Ensures Access To Health Care For All Regardless Of Socio-Economic Backgrounds

The largest contributor to unequal access to health care services is the ever-growing gap between the haves and have-nots. Primary health care has been designed to ensure that the underprivileged members of our communities have access to quality social and health services. Improved access to healthcare services, especially in rural America, can be done by 

  • Providing access to government-issued health insurance coverage.
  • Increasing the number of primary healthcare providers serving an impoverished community.
  • Improving access to telehealth services.
  • Encouraging health literacy in rural areas.
  • Encouraging discussions on topics such as mental health to reduce social stigma.

Supports Health Promotion

Health promotion refers to programs designed to encourage members of the public to live healthier lives. The main purpose of health promotion is to reduce the reliance on curative and rehabilitative treatment. Public health care providers can concentrate on preventing ill health through health promotion programs. Promoting a community’s health and well-being makes it easier for public health care providers to address health inequalities. For successful health promotion, it requires public health care providers to engage in non-clinical activities like

  • Creation of public health policies
  • Foster environments that encourage the support of good health.
  • Support activities that encourage health education.

Provides Mental Health And Social Support

Public health care is responsible for providing social support to communities to support mental healthcare and social well-being. It’s impossible to promote the overall health of a community if the mental health and social well-being of individual members aren’t taken care of. 

Therefore, public health care providers play an essential role in ensuring that communities access mental health care services. On top of that, public health care is responsible for encouraging discussions around mental health to reduce social stigma. 

Social well-being plays a vital role in improving the health of individuals and communities, especially mental health. And public health care is responsible for providing community-based services that promote our social well-being by encouraging lifestyle changes. Some of these services include

  • Educating local eateries and grocery stores to offer healthier and fresher food options.
  • Encouraging proper housing and improvements to housing conditions.
  • Supporting projects that encourage community activities like local sports competitions.

Public health care plays an important role in empowering communities, families, and individuals to take charge of their health proactively. And aside from addressing individual and family health concerns, it’s responsible for taking care of the social well-being and the physical and mental health needs of entire populations. Therefore, it’s your responsibility to actively promote public health care in your home, workplace, social circle, and community. Only then can we promote health and prevent the spread of diseases.

By Manali