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Walking the Talk: Reimagining primary health care after COVID-19

Well-designed Primary Health Care Can Help Flatten the Curve during a Health Crisis like COVID-19


AT A GLANCE (2 page summary)

Strong primary health care (PHC) saves lives and money and makes health systems work better for all people. The current COVID-19 crisis exacerbated pre-existing weaknesses and inflicted devastating health and economic costs. However, it also created a once-in-a-generation chance for transformational health-system change.

COVID-19 has exacerbated pre-existing distortions and exposed underlying system weaknesses. It has also highlighted the important role PHC must play during a health emergency through measures such as surveillance, testing and contact tracing, and in keeping hospitals from overfl owing with critically ill patients. Strong PHC systems are also key to the efficient delivery of crucial health services, including vaccinations. 

This report charts an agenda toward reimagined, fit-for-purpose PHC. It reflects a renewed understanding of global and local vulnerabilities and opportunities in the post-COVID world. It shows how governments can remake their primary health care systems and how partners like the World Bank can support this vital work.

First, by outlining three priorities for reimagining primary health care and four structural shifts in how PHC is designed, financed and delivered.

Three Priorities for Reimagining Primary Health Care:

1. Adopting a multi-disciplinary team-based approach

2. Reforming health care workforces

3. Financing for primary health care systems;


Four shifts in how PHC is designed, financed, and delivered will help drive reforms:

1. From low-quality PHC services to high-quality care for all.

2. From health service fragmentation to person-centered integration.

3. From inequity to fairness and accountability.

4. From fragility to resilience.