Primary Health Care as a Foundation for Strengthening Health Systems in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Asaf Bitton, Hannah L. Ratcliffe, Jeremy H. Veillard, Daniel H. Kress, Shannon Barkley, Meredith Kimball, Federica Secci, Ethan Wong, Lopa Basu, Chelsea Taylor, Jaime Bayona, Hong Wang, Gina Lagomarsino, Lisa R. Hirschhorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Primary health care (PHC) has been recognized as a core component of effective health systems since the early part of the twentieth century. However, despite notable progress, there remains a large gap between what individuals and communities need, and the quality and effectiveness of care delivered. The Primary Health Care Performance Initiative (PHCPI) was established by an international consortium to catalyze improvements in PHC delivery and outcomes in low- and middle-income countries through better measurement and sharing of effective models and practices. PHCPI has developed a framework to illustrate the relationship between key financing, workforce, and supply inputs, and core primary health care functions of first-contact accessibility, comprehensiveness, coordination, continuity, and person-centeredness. The framework provides guidance for more effective assessment of current strengths and gaps in PHC delivery through a core set of 25 key indicators (“Vital Signs”). Emerging best practices that foster high-performing PHC system development are being codified and shared around low- and high-income countries. These measurement and improvement approaches provide countries and implementers with tools to assess the current state of their PHC delivery system and to identify where cross-country learning can accelerate improvements in PHC quality and effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)566-571
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • global health
  • health policy
  • measurement
  • primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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