Health Promotion And Primary Health Care Essay Examples
Primary health care is basically a means of maintaining or improving the physical and mental health of people through the availability of medical services (Talbot &Verrinda, 2013). It is a necessary part of not just every individual’s survival but of every community’s survival as well. Interestingly enough, though, there is a huge tension that occurs between the two concepts of individuality and community when it comes to primary health care. But before delving into that, it is first necessary to discuss primary health care, the health promotion that comes with it, its purpose and benefits, its challenges, and the many political factors that affect it.
Primary health care is a part of people’s basic human rights (Talbot &Verrinda, 2013). Everyone, despite their age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, or beliefs, should be able to have access to primary health care. And this health care should be founded on scientifically proven and tested medical tools (Talbot &Verrinda, 2013). These medical tools do not just pertain to the medical equipment and technology; it also refers to the medical processes and methods that have been proven by the scientific and medical community to be beneficial to the recovery and maintenance of people’s health (Frieden, 2004).
Perhaps the best thing about primary health care is its nature of wanting to bring medical care to every member of the community. Primary health care does not exclude anyone and focuses on making sure that everyone is as healthy as they can possibly be (Talbot &Verrinda, 2013). And because it puts extreme importance on the people, it is only natural that primary health care involve a two way process. This two-way process refers to how it encourages working with people and letting them decide what should be done to them or for them in terms of their health (Frieden, 2004).
This is a huge contrast to the medical model of health care which focuses on the opinions and decisions of medical and health professionals (Taylor, Wilkinson, & Cheers, 2008). What makes primary health so beneficial in contrast to the medical model is that it gives power to the people and the communities. One great benefit of primary health care and health promotion is that it does not treat the patients as mere subjects to be tested (Frieden, 2010). Instead, the patients are treated as partners in the road to recovery. But the primary health care is not just beneficial to the patients, it is also beneficial to the practice of health professionals.
What health promotion and primary health care do to health professionals is that they encourage an over-all better performance. This better performance, ideally, would result in an improvement not just in the health of the people but also in the social, political, economic, and even environmental aspects of communities (Frieden, 2004). Primary health care calls different health care professionals such as pharmacists, local doctors, local nurses, and community health centers’ staff to work together in promoting a better lifestyle and better health to people (Weiner & Starfield, 1983).
Another great thing that primary health care brings is that it has been proven by numerous studies to be more effective in dealing with health problems than the medical model of health care. This is because primary health care focuses on preventing diseases and sicknesses instead of just curing them (Frieden, 2010). In other words, it tackles the problem at its roots before it even grows into an even bigger problem. Through health promotion such as conducting public seminars and using community health centers as tools to raise awareness, primary health care is able to instill a better and more comprehensive idea of what healthy truly means among members of community.
Unlike the medical model of health care, primary health care values public participation a great deal. This can be seen in how it includes the community in all its different aspects. It is known for its inter-sectoral care planning which does not just take into consideration the expertise of doctors and nurses but takes into consideration the expertise of professionals from various sectors (Gwatkin, Rustein, et al., 2004). These professionals from various sectors include pharmacists, economists, politicians, teachers, nutritionists, biologists, sociologists, and even the parents and their children who belong to the community.
These are the people whose thoughts and opinions also matter when planning and organizing the kind of care that will be provided by the health care systems. Why is this so valuable? Because it guarantees optimal results. Instead of addressing the problem from a singular perspective, communities are able to look at the problem from multiple perspectives. This multiplicity of perspective may be quite difficult to handle because it would eventually lead to conflicting ideas (Weiner & Starfield, 1983). However, when handled well, a multiplicity of perspective would truly be an excellent means of preventing diseases. This is because it is a holistic approach to a multi-dimensional problem which is the assurance of health for everyone.
The inclusion of the members of community may it be the professionals or the average citizens is what makes primary health care so much more effective than medical health care. This is because it does not provide a robotic kind of health care which simply diagnoses the patient, prescribes medication, and conducts various medical procedures. On the contrary, primary health care starts at promoting health by teaching people how to live a healthy lifestyle. This is particularly important for highly contagious diseases which medical health care always seems to be having difficulty in dealing with. Through primary health care, highly contagious diseases can already be prevented because people have a deeper understanding of what they should and should not do in order to not catch the disease in the first place.
What the communities have to do then, with regard to organizing their health care is they have to educate each member regarding the nature of various health problems and how to control them. They also have to discuss things such as food supply, proper nutrition, maternal and child health care, locally endemic diseases, use and control of drugs, major infectious diseases, common injuries, and many more (Gwatkin, Rustein, et al., 2004). Since the community takes central role in organizing the kind of health care and health agendas that will be available to the people, primary health care also entails cultural sensitivity. This cultural sensitivity involves taking into consideration the already existing lifestyles, traditions, beliefs, norms, and ideologies of a certain place’s population.
The community is given importance not just in planning and organizing the kind of health care to be provided but also in acquiring the health care itself. This is because one of the best things about primary health care is how it gives importance to equity when it comes to health status. Equity in health status refers to the universal access for every member of the community whenever they need health care (Jirowong &Liamputtong, 2009). This universal access that primary health care aims to achieve is one that is badly needed by communities everywhere. Not only does it promote better health for all but it also promotes social justice. This social justice refers to the fact that the rich will not be the only ones who would have access to health care but every other member of society as well regardless of their wealth, age, gender, beliefs, and race.
Unfortunately, despite the wonderful things that primary health care has to offer, it also has numerous challenges that await it. This is because primary health care is ambitious when it comes to providing universal health access to everyone (Gwatkin, Rustein, et al., 2004). In addition to that goal, primary health care also puts a great deal of importance on cultural sensitivity because of its nature of working with the people (Gwatkin, Rustein, et al., 2004). What makes this challenging is that communities are made up of very culturally diverse people. Because it deals with culture, health promotion and primary health care have an interdisciplinary nature. This means that they take account the economic, social, environmental, and political aspects of a community (Jirowong & Liamputtong, 2009).
Speaking of political, there have also been a lot of cases wherein political agenda has heavily influenced primary health care. One example can be seen in the controversy surrounding the IMF or the International Monetary Fund. According to reports, the IMF has been accused of constraining spending for health programs in developing countries (Center for Global Development, 2007). It was speculated that the reason behind IMF’s blatant lack of concern and efforts with regard to health spending for poor countries was because of conflicts of interest with various pharmaceutical and medical stakeholders (Center for Global Development, 2007). Their agenda was both political and economic as the lack of transparency within IMF has caused many to question whether there is corruption going on in the specific international agency.
A more regional and national example of how political agenda affects primary health care or health programs can be seen in the efforts of various U.S. States to improve sex education (Caldwell & Philips, 2002). There has been an increasing trend in public forums and seminars conducted by the government regarding the importance of contraception and the horrors of HIV transmissions (Cleland, Bernstein, et al., 2006). The political agenda behind this is the government’s desire to address overpopulation. The continuously growing population of various communities is becoming a serious problem for the government, and combine this with the high mortality rate due to STDs (Lipton, 1998). The two serious problems have become enough reasons for the government to implement various health programs at a community level which does not only promote health but also promotes discipline in one’s lifestyle.
Caldwell, J.C. & Philips, J.F. (2002). The future of family planning programs. Studies on Family Planning, 33, 1-10.
Cleland, J., Bernstein, S., Ezeh, A., Faundes, A., Glasier, A., & Innis, J. (2006). Family planning: The unfinished agenda. The Lancet Sexual and Reproductive Health Series, 3, 1-18.
Center for Global Development. (2007). Does the IMF constrain health spending in poor countries? Retrieved from http://www.cgdev.org/files/14103_file_IMF_report.pdf.
Frieden, T. R. (2004). Asleep at the switch: local public health and chronic disease. American Journal of Public Health, 94(12), 20-59.
Frieden, T.R. (2010). A framework for public health action: The health impact pyramid. American Journal of Public Health, 100(4), 590-595.
Gwatkin, D.R., Rustein, S., Johnston, K., Suliman, E.A., & Wagstaff, A. (2004). Initial country level information about socio-economic differences in health, nutrition, and population. (2nd ed.), Washington: The World Bank.
Jirowong, S. & Liamputtong, P. (2009). Population health, communities and health promotion. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Lipton, M. (1998). Population and poverty: How do they interact? Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Talbot, L., & Verrinda, G. (2010), Promoting health: A primary health care approach (4th ed.). Chatswood: Elsevier.
Talbot, L &Verrinda, G. (2013). Promoting health: a primary health care approach (5th ed.) Chatswood: Elsevier.
Taylor, J., Wilkinson, D. & Cheers, B. (2008). Working with communities in health and human services. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Weiner, J. P. and B. H. Starfield (1983). Measurement of the primary care roles of office-based physicians. American Journal of Public Health, 73(6), 666-671.