Promoting high quality primary health care across the globe: Primary health care research consortium (PHCRC)
Primary health care (PHC) is the foundation upon which strong health systems are built and strengthening PHC is an essential vehicle to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Current research on how best to achieve strong PHC systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is fragmented and focused on measuring gaps. Less is known about strategies to improve core PHC functions such as governance, service delivery models, quality of care and financing models. There is an urgent need to coordinate disparate research efforts and build capacity and resources around questions prioritized by country leaders for which better evidence is needed to improve delivery of equitable, high quality PHC.
The goal of the research consortium (RC) is to conduct prioritized and policy-relevant research to support country and global efforts to build high-quality PHC systems in pursuit of universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals. It will achieve this by developing, growing, and maintaining a global PHC research network led by organizations based in LMICs.
The RC will identify stakeholder knowledge needs, conduct evidence gap analyses, address priority questions and conduct multi-country comparisons to maximise knowledge gain across different settings. Through context specific design and dissemination pathways, the RC and its members will enhance the impact of research findings, increasing the likelihood that the knowledge gained can be translated into action.
The PHCRC secretariat has been established in New Delhi and a steering committee meeting was held in February 2020 to discuss consortium plan, fundraising and communications. Two multi country research projects have been initiated by the steering committee and work is in progress. During the COVID-19 lockdown period, the PHCRC has also supported a survey on how primary health systems in countries worldwide are coping with COVID-19 response.
- Bob Mash, Primary Care and Family Medicine Network (Primafamed), Sub-Saharan Africa (Chair of the PHCRC steering committee)
- Lisa R Hirschhorn, Ariadne Labs, United States of America
- KM Saif-Ur-Rahman, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh
- David Peiris, The George Institute for Global Health, Australia
- Felicity Goodyear-Smith, World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA)
- Fadi El-Jardali, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
- Wolfgang Munar, George Washington University, United States of America
Prior to establishing the research consortium, the members of the six organisations led by Ariadne labs, identified the gaps in global knowledge about what works in primary health care and prioritized a new research agenda that focuses on four key areas:
- organization and models of care
- quality, safety, and performance management
- policy and governance
- financing of primary care systems
The findings are published in 14 articles in a special issue of BMJ Global Health, “Strengthening Primary Health Care Through Research: Prioritized knowledge needs to achieve the promise of the Astana Declaration,” released online Aug. 16, 2019.