primary health care

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1 The WHO defines primary health care as essential health care made accessible at a cost that the country can afford, with methods that are practical, scientifically sound, and socially acceptable. Everyone should have access to it and be involved in it, as should other sectors of society. It should include community participation and education on prevalent health problems, health promotion and disease prevention, provision of adequate food and nutrition, safe water, basic sanitation, maternal and child care, family planning, prevention and control of endemic diseases, immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases, appropriate treatment of common diseases and injuries, and provision of essential drugs.

2 Health care, or medical care, that begins at the time of the first contact between a physician or other health professional and a person seeking advice or treatment for an illness or injury. It is provided by nonspecialized physicians and other health workers. In upper-income countries, it may be mainly a gatekeeper role with referral to specialists for high proportions of those seen, but for most of the world's population it is the only available health care, often called primary medical care.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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