What does COVID-19 mean for fragile primary health care systems and workforce?

The implications of COVID-19 on primary healthcare systems in resource-poor settings – already weak as a result of under-investment over many years – and frontline health workers within this system, are enormous.  This global pandemic poses a new and serious challenge to all our efforts to achieve quality healthcare coverage for all.

Primary Care Perspectives is our series of co-authored opinion pieces developed to explore resilient systems and healthy populations in the context of COVID-19 and beyond. The latest article, COVID-19 lessons for migrant-resilient primary care systems on a  warming plant, looks at what a warming planet and displaced populations mean for the delivery of healthcare. Published in Health Affairs, Renzo Guinto, Rita Issa, Dieudonne Yiweza and our own Julia Beart, together consider how both COVID-19 and migration due to climate change impact already fragile health systems – and what should de done in response.

Adapting our offerings

As a primary health care champion, PCI is quickly adapting its offerings to meet current needs, just as a strong primary health care system must.

COVID-19 e-learning resources

We responded to requests from front-line primary healthcare workers across the globe by providing free open access to newly created COVID-19 e-learning resources (available in English, French and Arabic) for those working in resource-limited settings. These tackle a range of topics from screening and triage, clinic operations, health workforce planning through to continuity of essential services including mental health. Thanks to our ongoing fundraising appeal we updated this guidance in September 2021 and added on a range of topic, including: vaccines; medications that work; variants; long Covid; and techniques for management at home, for those without access to professional care.

Technical and clinical support

We are also providing technical and clinical support to new and existing partners as they pivot and re-align health services. We are particularly glad to partner with humanitarian organisations for whom the challenges are multiplied, including supporting the WHO COVID-19 response in Syria.

The New Normal

Many more of PCI’s primary healthcare resources and services are now moving online as we adjust to some kind of ‘new normal’. In 2021 we launched the PCI Academy: a unique, accessible, blended learning offer for primary healthcare practitioners working globally. We need to be ready to work alongside partners to step up our response in support of depleted health systems with a laser sharp focus on already vulnerable groups – such as those living with chronic conditions.

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