Roselyn Sachiti Features, Health & Society Editor
All over the world primary health care plays a vital role of keeping communities healthy at the same time helping to increase access to the health care system thereby offering better health outcomes.
The first point of contact with health services, primary care has been described by many as the entrance to the entire health system, its interconnecting principles being of equity, access, empowerment, community self-determination and inter-sectoral collaboration.
Over the years, several research papers have proved the link between primary health services and better health outcomes, including improvements in self-rated health and a reduction in all-cause mortality, especially in Africa.
In a report launched on Monday, global health funders and philanthropist couple, Bill and Melinda Gates, urged governments to prioritise primary health care to deliver a health system that works for the poorest, digital governance to ensure that governments are responsive to their least-empowered citizens, and more support for farmers to help them adapt to climate change’s worst effects.
In their latest third annual Goalkeepers Data Report, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also calls for a new approach to development, targeting the poorest people in the countries and districts that need to make up the most ground.
New data shows that while progress on health and development continues unabated, global inequality remains a major barrier to achieving the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals).
Even in the worst-off parts of low- and low-middle-income countries, more than 99 percent of communities have seen an improvement in child mortality and schooling. However, even with this progress, persistent gaps in opportunity mean that nearly half a billion people — about one in 15 — still do not have access to basic health and education.
The world’s investments in development are not reaching everyone, as gaps between countries, districts, and boys and girls prove.
Using new sub-national data, the report further uncovers the vast inequalities within countries that are masked by averages.
According to the report, where you’re born is still the biggest predictor of your future, and no matter where you’re born, life is harder if you’re a girl. Despite gains in female educational attainment, opportunities for girls are limited by social norms, discriminatory laws and policies, and gender-based violence.
“As we write, billions of people are projected to miss the targets that we all agreed represent a decent life,” Bill and Melinda Gates say in the Goalkeepers Data Report, “Examining Inequality 2019”, which they co-authored.
“We believe that seeing where the world is succeeding will inspire leaders to do more, and seeing where the world is falling short will focus their attention.”
Bill and Melinda Gates produce a Goalkeepers Data Report every year through 2030, timing it to the annual gathering of world leaders for the UN General Assembly.
The report is designed to track progress in achieving the Global Goals, highlight examples of success, and inspire leaders around the world to accelerate their efforts. The goal is to identify both what’s working and where we’re falling short.
As in past years, in conjunction with the report, Bill and Melinda Gates will co-host the third annual Goalkeepers events in New York City during the UN General Assembly, convening global leaders to celebrate progress in global health and development and highlight the critical importance of closing the global inequality gap to achieve the Global Goals.
Once the world’s richest person, the software entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist, along with his wife, established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 to donate the bulk of their fortune to improving health care and reducing poverty around the world. They created the foundation, which has an endowment of more than US$50 billion, after reading that hundreds of thousands of children in poor countries were dying of diarrhoea.