Primary Health Care Information




Why is this database important?

Swasti is a Health Catalyst whose mission is to support and enable vulnerable peoples and communities, to have and make the right choices to lead healthy lives. This also means supporting change agents to embody this mission, and thus reach more communities together.

As we researched and built this database, we learnt invaluable lessons and stories that are worth sharing with the global health community at large. The focus of these lessons here is to show what works where, how, why, and towards what. The goal is to inspire readers to take these learnings, and their own, from these stories to implement in their own practice and communities.

The solutions are presented in any one of the 4 formats:

  • Icon Impact evaluations are focused on a single intervention and its impact
  • Public Health Care Image Reviews - narrative reviews, systematic reviews
  • Models are comprehensive primary healthcare models for identified communities
  • Message Icon Case stories created from interviews of creators of promising PHC models and innovations from the field
View Database
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Explore the database

The identified solutions can be found in single or multiple categories based on their intervention type or main goal. You can interact with the database by searching for the types of evidence or health systems components.
Click here to learn more about the categories.

Contributor of Program

Project Team

Vijayashree Yellappa Health Advisor
Dr. Vijayashree Yellappa
Angela Chaudhuri Health Advisor
Dr. Angela Chaudhuri
Nilakshi Biswas Health Advisor
Nilakshi Biswas
Meghana Ratna Pydi Health Expert
Meghana Ratna Pydi
Nandini Agarwal Health Expert
Nandini Agarwal


Rajeev Sadanandan Health Advisor
Dr. Rajeev Sadanandan
Shiv Kumar Health Advisor
Shiv Kumar

Frequently Asked Questions

What is primary health care in India?

Primary health care in India refers to the fundamental health care services provided at the community level to meet the basic health needs of individuals and communities. It encompasses a range of services, including health promotion, disease prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care. India's primary health care system includes a network of primary health centers, sub-centers, community health centers, and district hospitals.

The establishment of primary health centers in India dates back to 1952, aimed at addressing people's health needs and promoting a patient-centric approach. In recent years, there has been a renewed emphasis on strengthening the primary healthcare system in India to enhance access to quality healthcare services and reduce the disease burden in the population. This has been achieved through various initiatives, such as the National Health Mission, the Ayushman Bharat program, and the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY).

What is the role of PHC in India?

The primary health care (PHC) system plays a crucial role in the healthcare sector in India. Here are some of the key roles of PHCs in India:

  • Provide Basic Health Services: PHCs are the first point of contact for individuals seeking medical services. They provide basic healthcare services, such as treatment for common illnesses, immunizations, and maternal and child health care.
  • Preventive Care: PHCs also focuses on preventive care, such as health education, disease prevention, and early detection of diseases.
  • Referral System: PHCs serve as a referral system to higher-level health facilities for specialized treatment and care. They link the community and the district hospitals, ensuring patients receive medical services.
  • Health Promotion: PHCs also play an essential role in health promotion activities like sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition.
  • Data Collection: PHCs gather essential healthcare information at the community level. This data is used to identify public health problems, plan and implement health programs, and monitor the effectiveness of health interventions.

Overall, India's primary health care system is critical in ensuring access to essential health services for individuals in rural and urban areas. It plays a significant role in reducing the population's disease burden and promoting public health.

What are the Benefits of PHC?

Primary healthcare in India provides basic healthcare services to people in both rural and urban areas, which ensures access to healthcare services even in remote areas and to vulnerable populations. This approach is cost-effective and focuses on preventing diseases, promoting healthy behaviors and lifestyles, and detecting illnesses early, which leads to improved health outcomes. Additionally, community participation and involvement in health promotion activities empower communities to take ownership of their health and work towards improving their health outcomes.

Strengthening primary healthcare services is a critical component of any healthcare system, as it builds a robust healthcare system that can effectively respond to the health needs of the population. By improving access to healthcare services, reducing healthcare costs, and promoting healthy behaviors and lifestyles, primary healthcare in India can contribute to the country's overall development.

What are the Challenges Faced in Primary Health Care?

Most primary health centers merely provide limited, disease-specific curative services. The current emphasis on vertical disease control programs, such as tuberculosis and leprosy, contributes to the need for comprehensive, integrated service delivery. The vertical disease program structure identifies a clear flow of funds and delineates activities at various levels of health care. Vertical programs efficiently manage healthcare delivery, usually driven from the 'top'. People are at the receiving end of such arrangements rather than at the center of planning or delivery as envisaged in primary health care. The underlying distinction between vertical and horizontal approaches is the contradiction of power. The horizontal approach responds to patients' needs, and the vertical approach is more suited to the state's requirements. The vertical arrangement of services becomes a challenge because it impedes the integration of services and a person-centered approach that are the hallmarks of primary health care. Further, it restricts participatory approaches to designing and delivering healthcare in a bottom-up approach central to primary healthcare.

What is the primary healthcare database all about?

Health Systems Transformation Platform, Swasti, and CMS partnered to conduct a systematic review of the Primary Healthcare Landscape in India, with the aim of informing policy and decision-makers on potential options for comprehensive primary health care innovations and models. The review included theory papers, reference papers, system reviews, impact evaluations, and case studies, which were analyzed and extracted for this study. The dataset included 404 publications, with 239 impact evaluations categorized and extracted.

The review identified 241 innovations gleaned from the dataset, with many studies including more than one innovation. The innovations were presented in four formats: impact evaluations, reviews, models, and case studies. The case studies provided a deep dive into four primary health care models and four primary health care innovations that showed promise, novelty, and impact. These innovations and case studies have key insights that should be advocated for and utilized by primary healthcare actors both in the field and within policy.

Providing primary health care in India is a significant challenge due to the increasing number of emerging infectious diseases, such as Covid-19. The government has implemented several infection control policies and guidelines to protect citizens from these diseases. The review aims to build accountability and strengthen health systems from an advocacy point of view, pushing Swasti's vision of creating healthy and "well-thy" days for the most marginalized. The primary health care database is a central location where primary health care innovations and healthcare information are systematically categorized for improved understanding and easier dissemination for the Indian subcontext.

Who can benefit from the primary healthcare database?

The primary healthcare database system was developed as a comprehensive resource that will serve as a tool for researchers, decision-makers, and influencers in the healthcare system to more effectively design primary health care interventions in India while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of PHC in the country.

What do the PHC database insights encompass?

The articles that are reviewed and listed under the database have various subcategories. These are cross analyzed for learnings and mapping resources under financing, geographies, and the administrative system in place. The insights page records the primary health care system's experiences, approaches, and patterns through blogs, policy briefs and reports.

Reach out to us

If your organisation is doing exemplary work in Primary Health Care, do reach out to us. You can also connect with us to nominate other organisations in your network. Please fill in the details and we will reach out to you as soon as possible.

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