PRIORITY INVESTMENT Category
Primary Health Care
Basic health care is a fundamental prerequisite of both personal well-being and people’s ability to thrive economically. Yet more than half of the world’s population lacks access to essential health services.1 Partly as a result of that gap, nearly 9 million people die each year from preventable and treatable diseases.2 In addition, high medical expenses—driven by a lack of affordable, accessible health care options—cause 100 million people each year to fall into extreme poverty.1
Effective systems of primary health care can be a crucial aspect of alleviating extreme poverty in low-income countries. The building blocks of such a system include not only adequate hospital infrastructure and medical staffing, but also high-quality service delivery, access to medical equipment and products, a capable workforce, and strong leadership by a nation’s ministry of health.3 One compelling intervention that can bolster a primary care system involves the deployment of community health workers. With a modest level of training, these workers can deliver services such as prenatal care, vaccinations, and malaria treatment, and they can do so in an efficient and cost-effective way.
Strengthening primacy health care systems can yield significant benefits. According to one study, 73 countries account for 97% of the world’s preventable maternal and child deaths, and deploying networks of community health workers in those countries would save at least 2.5 million lives per year.4
PRIMARY HEALTH CARE
Related Portfolio Organizations
- “Tracking Universal Health Coverage: 2017 Global Monitoring Report (English).” World Bank Group, 2017.
- Matthew Limb. “World Will Lack 18 Million Health Workers by 2030 Without Adequate Investment, Warns UN.” BMJ, vol. 354, no. 5169, 2016.
- “Monitoring the Building Blocks of Health Systems: A Handbook of Indicators and Their Measurement Strategies.” World Health Organization, 2010..
- Henry B. Perry, Rose Zulliger, and Michael M. Rogers. “Community Health Workers in Low-, Middle-, and High-Income Countries: An Overview of Their History, Recent Evolution, and Current Effectiveness.” Annual Review of Public Health, vol. 35, January 2014, pp. 399-421.