Primary Health Care: Influences on Canada and Nursing.
In 1978, primary health care was identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be a guide to achieve "Health for All by the Year 2000"(Alberta Association of Registered Nurses [ARRN], 1998). Later in 1985, a challenge was proposed by the WHO to nurses across the world to act as "a powerhouse for change" for the implementation of primary health care (PHC)(Stewart, 2000). A movement in Canada and nursing practice began to integrate the principles of PHC into the Canadian health care system. As a result the role of the nurse in health care evolved.
The primary health care approach is an approach to administering health services and a philosophy of what health care should entail (Canadian Nursing Association [CNA], 1999). PHC is essential care that is focused towards the promotion of health and the prevention of illness. To achieve these goals primary health care endorses the principles of health promotion, public participation, accessibility, appropriate technology, and intersectoral collaboration (CNA, 1995). .
Health promotion involves a focus on staying well and includes health education, sanitation, nutrition, immunization, maternal and child health care along with any other measures that help people gain an understanding of the health determinants. With the concept of health promotion people acquire the skills and the knowledge to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The principle of public participation is the encouragement of people to become involved in their health and in identifying their community needs. It also encourages people to explore any alternatives to meet those needs. This principle ensures flexibility and a respect for diversity. Accessibility deals with the idea of universal availability; all clients will have all types of health care available to them regardless of their location. Accessibility includes appropriate care, from the appropriate caregiver, at an appropriate time.