Nikolaos Patineas , EIRINI MAKRIDOU , Despoina Kosmidou
WHO has identified Primary Health Care (PHC) as a key priority for all its Member States. Safe and accessible PHC is an international policy objective. The 2018 Astana Declaration, following the Declaration of Alma Ata, to update the goals and reaffirm the need to support and invest in PHC to address modern health challenges. These challenges were the mapping of the Primary Health Care services provided in Greece, the response rate of Primary Health Care Units in addressing the increased needs that existed during the pandemic and all the weaknesses that were revealed during the COVID-19 health crisis. One of the most important challenges currently is to highlight the long-standing problems that stigmatize PHC in Greece, as well as the possible solutions and the prospects that exist for improving PHC.
The pandemic highlighted the long-standing inadequacies of the National Healthcare System and especially of the PHC, such as fragmented primary care and its subsequent underfunding. There are significant organizational gaps, understaffing of public hospitals and health care facilities and a limited number of staff employed in PHC compared to other European countries. In addition, lack of PHC units during the pandemic led to an outbreak of diseases and worsened health outcomes of people living with chronic conditions due to PHC staff mainly being working in the vaccination centres, thus leaving unattended all other PHC needs of the citizens.
The need to strengthen PHC structures is paramount to address the current challenges. The development of an integrated PHC network and the development of more multidisciplinary teams of health care professionals to provide more efficient health services is an immediate priority and should be addressed accordingly by the state.
Keywords: Primary health care, challenges, health care services, national health system