Government urged to make primary healthcare a speciality

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The Academy of Family Physicians of India on Tuesday urged the government to recognise primary healthcare as a “speciality”, saying their experts (family physicians) are the first point of contact for healthcare for most people.

The body asserted that strengthening primary healthcare would be a major step towards achieving the goal of mitigating the burden of diseases at advance state.

It is mainly provided by general practitioners but community pharmacists, opticians and dentists are also primary healthcare providers. The aim is to provide an easily accessible route to care, whatever the patient’s problem, it said.

“By strengthening primary healthcare (PHC), burden of diseases at advance stages can be prevented. It needs effective planning and future road map to reach the target. The PHC forms the anchor around which entire healthcare delivery system is organised,” said Raman Kumar, President of the Academy of Family Physicians of India.

Currently, primary healthcare by the general physicians is not recognised by the Medical Council of India as any form of specialty.

The World Health Organisation has identified five key elements as part of the primary healthcare, reducing exclusion and social disparities in health, (universal coverage reforms), organising health services around people’s needs and expectations (service delivery reforms) and integrating health into all sectors.

“Primary healthcare is not yet recognised by the Medical Council of India (MCI) as a specialty, although MCI has advocated for the creation of a diploma course in family medicine. Primary healthcare practitioners therefore have no formal system for career progression. They have lower pay and worse working conditions than their hospital colleagues,” said Kumar.