Primary Healthcare: Health for All
Primary healthcare is a guiding tool for the establishment of a sustainable healthcare system that acts to eliminate not only the medical causes but also social, economic and political causes of ill health. The Alma-Ata declaration in 1978 revolutionized the world’s interpretation of health. To reduce health inequities between the developed and developing countries as well as within the country (e.g. urban and rural) primary healthcare addresses a range of approaches for prioritizing the health needs and fundamental determinants of health. It provides the sense of ownership to the community people regarding their health; health solutions are being innovated, implemented and sustained by them.
Surprisingly, two of the most inspiring and least understood topics of global health are “Health for all” and “Primary Healthcare”. With a goal to learn about these two important topics, I enrolled myself in the course “Health For All Through Primary Care” offered by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and instructed by Dr. Henry Perry. The course focuses on why primary healthcare is integral to achieving health for all. The instructor tries to exemplify how primary healthcare has been implemented in different communities with diverse challenges and obstacles and how the principles of primary healthcare can guide health policies and implementation of those policies.
The course format is somewhat like this. It was a 5 weeks long course. There was a one hour lecture by the instructor per week along with additional written or online video materials to review that worth of taking one hour per week. There were discussion forum times, quizzes, written peer reviewed assignments and peer evaluation almost every week.
We were taught about the Alma-Ata Declaration in 1978, WHO report on Primary healthcare, Carl Taylor’s reflection on primary healthcare and many more related articles published on the Lancet. The instructor discussed about different primary healthcare projects around the world. For instance, we came to know about Jamkhed Comprehensive Rural Health Project in India, Tiyatien Health – Our Story, Liberia; Care Group Project Implementation, BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee), Bangladesh, Nepal and Beyond and many more. We discussed about the pros and cons of those projects and gave our thought on how to make them more successful in terms of achieving health for all.
There were two peer reviewed assignments in the course. The first assignment was to compare and contrast the insights into primary health care provided by Carl Taylor and insights provided from other assigned lectures, readings and videos. I did that assignment while I was in a rural area of Bangladesh for official purposes and faced a lot of problems e.g. very limited access to internet. Even so, I submitted that assignment in time and it was evaluated by my peers from the course. And when the result came, I found that I had earned 18 points out of 20 and I was very happy for that.
Then, in the 5th week we had to submit our final assignment focusing on what we can do now or in future, acting alone or within an organization, to help achieve health for all through primary healthcare. As a Research Associate of BRAC Healthcare Innovations Program, I took the privilege of planning my action plans focusing on BRAC and its existing health programs. And I got full marks in that assignment and excellent feedbacks from my peer evaluators. One of the peer evaluators said, “This is a great essay! Your solutions are thoughtful and you are really knowledgeable on the material. As a mobile app designer, I could really appreciate your focus on mHealth. I wish you the best of luck in furthering your career.”
We had a great time in the discussion forum. We discussed different topics, exchanged thoughts about primary healthcare and learnt many things from others. We made friends and have started keeping in touch with others through our personal emails. But my great moment on the discussion forum came when I found the great Dr. Henry Perry replied to my post. “Shawon – Thanks for these kind of comments. BRAC is a global leader in this work, and you are so fortunate to be able to work there”, he said. I was immensely glad and grateful to Dr. Henry.
Finally I want to say that, the course has given me wonderful and effective insights on achieving health for all through primary healthcare. The knowledge that I have gathered from this course will certainly pave my future career path.
More information at: https://www.coursera.org/course/healthforall
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