Primary Health Care: in a world of specializations

Patient 2019

(Sharon McCutcheon, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Clara Marques Santana, a second-year medical student at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora in Governador Valadares (UFJF-GV), Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

In recent years aroused the question of how to promote Primary Health Care (PHC) to the young health workforce although specialization careers overate – since this job line attracts workers from basic attention to large health centers more focused on treating than preventing. That question could be answered by the work of different spheres of society – as colleges, medical institutions, and media – in the sense of promoting PHC for providing the existence of conscientious workers – more interested in a humanized and efficient care.

In the last years, the medical field has experienced an increase of the discussion about the impact of specialization careers in the generation of new health workforces while the need of structured Primary Health Care (PHC) only grows. More explainable, specialization careers are well seen in the medical field for allowing a deep knowledge about specifics diseases by using high technology, and, this overate removes workforce from basic attention and attracts to large health centers very focused on treatment1.

However, medical practice shows the wish for preventing illness, promoting health and avoiding damages2– consequently, there is a demand for organized PHC, and for that, people available to work must be interested on it. So, how to promote PHC to the young health workforce? That question could be answered by the work of different spheres of society – as colleges, medical institutions, and media – in the sense of promoting PHC for providing the existence of conscientious workers – more concerned about humanized and efficient care3.

First of all, colleges have the duty to aware health students about how good is to preclude from ill health. For example, teachers can show how the vaccines’ invention was important for the eradication of smallpox, in global level, and other illness, in the local one. In addition, students must have lessons about health surveillance and health systems4 – to understand that: some diseases always could be avoided; for an economy, prevention is cheaper than treatment; and, for a patient, to prevent is fundamental5.

In the other hand, encouragement of medical institutions – as support for the training of basic care professionals and promotion of better working conditions – is equally crucial in the struggle of better health care. Moreover, media should spread the legacy of people which changed the history of community health, like John Snow6– whose discovered that one huge epidemic was caused by cholera using revolutionary technics that allowed the existence of modern epidemiology.

In conclusion, these three spheres of society could help overcome the dichotomy7 between more technological and treatment-focused assistance and PHC – contributing to a collective health concept. Therefore, although the rate of specialization carriers, exalting the significance of PHC for health students is essential for better health care, because it will provide the existence of conscientious workers.


  • Fertonani, Hosanna Pattrig, et al. “Modelo assistencial em saúde: conceitos e desafios para a atenção básica brasileira.” Ciência & Saúde Coletiva 20 (2015): 1869-1878.
  • van Weel, Chris, et al. “Primary healthcare policy implementation in the Eastern Mediterranean region: Experiences of six countries.” European Journal of General Practice 24.1 (2018): 39-44.
  • Kluge, Hans, et al. “How primary health care can make universal health coverage a reality, ensure healthy lives, and promote wellbeing for all.” The Lancet10156 (2018): 1372-1374;
  • Santos-Lozano, Alejandro, et al. “mHealth and the legacy of John Snow.” The Lancet 391.10129 (2018): 1479-1480;
  • Heidemann, Ivonete Teresinha Schulter Buss, et al. “Estudo comparativo de práticas de promoção da saúde na atenção primária em Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brasil e Toronto, Ontário, Canadá.” Cadernos de saúde pública 34 (2018): e00214516.
  • Mendes, Eugênio Vilaça. “A construção social da atenção primária à saúde.” Brasília: Conselho Nacional de Secretários de Saúde (2015).

About the author

Clara Marques Santana is a second-year medical student at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora in Governador Valadares (UFJF-GV), Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA Brazil), as a trainee. Moreover, she dedicates her time to an extension project in epidemiology at UFJF-GV (EPIMOBS). Therefore, she seeks to study how to promote Primary Health Care, and tries to combine her studies with epidemiology’s knowledge.







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