Primary Healthcare and Nursing Roles

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 8
Words: 2014
Reading time:
8 min
Study level: College


Human being’s various kinds of needs some of which are basic while others may be properly referred to as secondary. Basic or primary needs are those which human beings need to meet as a matter of necessity. Without the fulfillment of these needs, it will be virtually difficult for man to live comfortably (Greenhalg, 2007, p.34). These needs include food, shelter, clothing, basic education, basic protection and basic healthcare. In some countries, these needs are classified under basic human rights which every person is entitled. With mergence of numerous diseases and the cost of living escalating, it has become necessary for various governments the world over to go a notch higher in providing basic health services to their citizenry. This discussion pays attention to primary health care and seeks to draw a clear distinction between primary health care and primary care and how the two overlap.

Primary Health Care

By definition, primary healthcare which is simply referred to as PHC refers to provision of healthcare services which are essential and these services are based on methods which have gained acceptance in the social circles, are scientifically sound and are also practical (McDaniel, 2005, p.34). Further, these services are based on technology which is easily accessible to all in the community by enabling every person to play a participatory role in their development and also ensuring that the cost at which these services are provided is one which is affordable for various countries so that they are able to maintain these services at various stages thereby becoming self determined and self reliant.

Goals of Primary Healthcare

Primary healthcare has certain goals and principles which need to be achieved so as to have an impact in the society. The main goal for primary healthcare is to ensure that all people have a better health. This is because it has been argued that a healthy nation will always tend to be prosperous as productivity of those in the labour force will be higher (Institute of Medicine, 2001, p.32). The World Health organization has formulated a number of strategies or elements which will ensure that this ultimate goals of ensuring every person is healthy is achieved (Clark, 1984, p.234). The first element is to ensure that any form of disparity or exclusion in provision of healthcare which leads to non-uniformed provision of healthcare services is eliminated.

Simply put, this involves ensuring that people receive the same kind healthcare services without discrimination. The other very important element is ensuring that the healthcare services provided revolve around the needs of the people in the community. According to WHO, the other key element is that there is an integration of health in the various public sectors. The World Health Organization also recognized the need to bring on board more stakeholders and encourage their participation in the enhancement and betterment of healthcare services so that there are more players (Starfield, 1998). WHO has also pointed out the need to pursue models that will encourage reforms of leadership in various communities.

In order to cement these elements and ensure that the ultimate goals of good healthcare for all is achieved, various principles have also been formulated which are embedded in the above discussed elements. The first principle is ensuring that healthcare services are distributed equally to all people in the community. This therefore means that factors such race, age, gender and other affiliations should not be considered in the provision of healthcare services. It has also been pointed out that yet another principle is ensuring full community participation. He community should be allowed to own the healthcare services and in so doing the local resources available can be utilized and also this will give a chance for the community to take part in their own healthcare (Duggan, 1995, p.34). Yet another principle that has been cited as being important in the realization of the ultimate goal s ensuring that there are adequate healthcare workers who will provide the services without being strained thereby providing high quality services (Thomas & Kevin, 2006, p.24).

There is also a need to embrace technology to the fullest and that any recent technological advancements especially in the healthcare field is considered to ensure that the healthcare services provided are up to date and relevant in the field. There is also a great need to change our approach of improving the healthcare sector (Lundry & Janes, 2009, p.26). This is by taking a multi-sectional approach where various other stakeholders even outside the health sector are brought on board. This is because, the intervention from the health sector solely is not sufficient to bring a turnaround in the provision of better healthcare services.

Primary Care

By definition, primary care refers to providers of healthcare services who are considered to be central as far as provision of consultation to patients in healthcare system is concerned. The providers of healthcare services in this case are doctors who already have a group of patients to whom he provides basic healthcare. In many cases, it simply requires consistent provision of healthcare services from one doctor to certain patients over duration of time (Sines & Saunder, 2009, p.34). In many families for example, there is usually a family doctor who is always called upon whenever there is an ailment in a family. Further even without any kind of illness such a doctor performs routine health checkups just to ensure that one is in sound health. It can therefore be correctly pout that primary care is provided at the very basic level, for example the family level where health practitioners come to the level of basic units in the society to provide healthcare services. Secondary care is wider as it includes those services that offered in hospitals and it is not as narrowed down as primary care (John & Keleher, 2006, p.96).

Distinction between Primary Health Care and Primary Care

Primary health care and primary care by their very nature are related to a great extent. However, there is a man distinction between these aspects which is that primary health care tends to be participatory in the sense that it encourages the participation of the community in their own healthcare system (Hill 2007, p.86). In so doing, there is less dependence on health practitioners to provide health care services as the community takes upon itself to come up with initiatives that will help make better the provision of healthcare services in the society (Institute of Medicine, 2000, p.23). Primary care on the other hand relies heavily on medical practitioners to provide health care services. This is not only when there is an illness but also for general health checkup. Primary care can therefore be said to be more personalized than primary health care although the latter on the other hand is said to empower the community so that its owns the healthcare system (Lundry & Janes, 2003, p.46).

Overlapping between Primary Health Care and Primary Care

Much as these two health aspects are different, they tend to overlap in one way or another and especially when it comes to community health nursing (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2000, p.24). Primary health care as already mentioned involves bringing on board the members of a given community to participate in enhancing the health care system thereby making it better and this works well to their advantage (Canham & Benett, 2001, p.34). Primary care on the other hand is more specific and limiting as it involves health practitioners dealing with limited number of patients over duration of time and the group of patients could be as small as a family or an institution. Nurses are classified under primary because they are medical practitioners who more often are assigned to deal with certain patients. Community nurses however work directly with the community providing primary health care while at the same time helping the communities understand to better enhance (Crooks & Andrew, 2008, p.23). Unlike the ordinary nurses whose services are confined or limited to the hospital environment, community nurses go out to the field and reach out to the community dealing and help them to deal with various health problems. Community nursing is not limited to certain health care services. Instead, they provide to their community a wide range of services all of which are geared to ensuring the needs of the community in terms of health are met.

Although community nursing partly concentrates on treating illnesses, the main aim of this concept is to prevent illnesses in communities by administering necessary preventive treatment thereby ensuring that the community is protected from certain ailments (Baker, 1987, p 34). Further, community nursing also conducts pretty much civic education to the community helping the people to understand the kind of lifestyle they are supposed so as to keep free from ailments. They are also taught on how to read symptoms and signs of certain ailments and what to do incase such ailments are spotted. Simply put therefore, community nursing has brought about overlapping between primary care and primary health care in that community nursing combines the other two aspects.

Roles of Community Nursing

One of the roles played by community nursing is to assist people in the society to assess the environment in which they are living and on this backdrop be able to focus on their health (Watkins & Edward, 2003, p.54). Some of the ailments that people suffer are as a result of the kind of environment that we live in. Therefore, community nursing helps people in community to better understand their environment and learn how to cope with the environment around them so that regardless of their environment still be able to protect themselves from ailments. Some of the strategies that are used in community nursing include early intervention and incase they trace an ailment that is at an advanced stage of development, they make referrals so that the ailing persons can be treated before the ailments advances to a higher stage.

Looking at primary health care and primary care as two separate aspects, one realizes that they may not achieve much solely. As a matter of fact, they may not even achieve the very goals which were initially set. Over the years these two concepts have been working apart and this has seen the health care systems in many countries being ineffective. Community nursing however has helped a great deal in bridging the gap that exists between these two aspects (Barker, 2009, p.45). It has helped those in the healthcare system that these two aspects, much as they are essential for a society, they can only work best if only they are harmonized. On one hand, while primary health care is a brilliant idea which is meant to promote the standards of health for the people in society, people in the society cannot enhance their health without the help of medical practitioners (Hickman, 2006, p 45). There is need to ensure that much as people in the society have been empowered so as to take initiative in taking care of their health, they have a guiding hand of medical practitioners who will be there to assess their health situation and give advise accordingly.


Until recently, primary care and primary health care have always been viewed as two separate aspects which have been function independently. As a result, the healthcare systems in many countries have not been able to achieve much in terms of the goals set and they have also not been able. However, since the introduction of community nursing which has helped bridge the gap that has continued to exist between these two concepts have been harmoniously combined and this has seen healthcare systems that have been on the verge of collapse be revived. This is because people in the community have been brought on board and have contributed in the enhancement of their own health care system. It is challenge to the healthcare systems that still view these concepts separately. Combining primary care and primary health care has gone a long way in not only empowering the society but also making health care system more effective.


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