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Health News of Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Source: GNA

Bill Gates/WB launch new Primary Health Care programme

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, World Bank Group and World Health Organization have launched a new partnership to support countries improve the performance of primary health care.

The new partnership, code named Primary Health Care Performance Initiative (PHCPI), will support countries to strengthen monitoring, tracking and sharing of key performance indicators for primary health care.

The collaboration will strengthen primary health care, advance progress toward Sustainable Development Goals.

In a statement issued by the World Bank Group based in New York and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Monday, said primary health care is the pillar of health systems and is central to preventing epidemics like Ebola.

The statement said improving women’s and children’s health; controlling major infectious diseases, such as HIV and TB; and managing the rising burden of non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.

It said underscoring the urgent need to transform how essential health care is delivered in low- and middle-income countries, the new partnership was timely.

It explained that many countries have identified primary health care as an urgent priority, but lacked the data needed to pinpoint weaknesses, understand their causes and drive improvements.

The partnership was launched at an event co-hosted by the governments of Germany, Ghana and Norway, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel released a new framework, “Roadmap: Healthy Systems – Healthy Lives,” for global cooperation to strengthen health systems.

The launch of these two complementary initiatives took place, at the UN General Assembly in New York, where the world leaders met at the United Nations to adopt 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

PHCPI partners highlighted the far-reaching benefits of stronger primary health care, including as a pathway to universal health coverage.

Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group and co-founder of PHCPI said “For the first time, the world has set a goal with specific targets for universal health coverage by 2030.

To ensure that everyone has access to essential and affordable health services, countries must have strong primary health care systems to deliver them and that is how we’ll reach the poorest and most vulnerable people with the care they need, in the most equitable way.”

He noted that as the foundation of health systems, primary health care connects people and families with trusted health workers and supportive systems throughout their lives; and provides access to services ranging from family planning and routine immunizations to treatment of illness and management of chronic conditions.

Health systems built on strong primary health care are more resilient, efficient and equitable.

Ms Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said, “Strong primary health care systems are where people turn in their communities to stay healthy and get care when they fall sick.

When primary health care works, it can meet the vast majority of people’s health needs. Yet Ebola revealed what can happen, starting with primary care, when health systems are broken and in need of repair.”

The recent outbreak of Ebola, a disease that can be prevented through basic health measures; both exacerbated and were partially fuelled by broken primary health care systems.

Several countries offer examples of high-performing primary health care. Brazil’s efforts to train and assign primary health care workers to specific neighbourhoods have led to dramatic gains in health, especially in the country’s poorest areas.

Ghana’s efforts to implement mobile-based primary health care have helped the country to achieve reduced infant mortality and increased life expectancy.

Closing gaps in primary health care, she said, will require better data. While countries regularly track the total amount of money spent on health care and measure the coverage of select interventions, there is comparatively little monitoring and sharing of data about the performance of primary health care.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a co-founder of PHCPI said “We know that better measurement can guide smarter, more effective planning and action.

“It’s time to get serious about tracking and measuring primary health care performance, so that countries have the data they need to efficiently direct resources to improve the health of their citizens, especially women and children.”