Essential health care: a framework for its definition and implementation in health districts

Trop Doct. 1984 Oct;14(4):146-50. doi: 10.1177/004947558401400402.


This paper presents a framework for the definition and implementation of essential health care. It is based upon current experiences in developing countries. Its aim is to facilitate the description, in operational terms, of a range of activities for clearly defined targets--individuals, families and communities. It seeks to bring to the attention of responsible citizens and professionals the major areas which they should address in the search for "Health for All by the year 2000". It is hoped that this will facilitate integration of health care into socio-economic development activities; and promote a partnership between people and governments in community health development.

PIP: A framework for the definition and implementation of essential health care is presented, based on experiences in developing countries. Primary health care is the key to attaining the goal of Health for All by the year 2000. The definition of essential health care is individual health care, family health care and community health care. Community health care includes the other 2, while family health care includes individual health care. Family health care activities include those which are best organized with the family unit as the target. Family health care interventions would be served by a family health care team based at a health center. Family care tasks would be performed by full-time health center staff and part-time visiting staff. Individual health care can be implemented in simple health posts and in community centers. Community health care activities would be organized from the pricipal health center by members of an expanded district team. The team leader would be a full-time health professional with managerial and leadership abilities. A community profile is a prerequisite. The practical benefits of the model would be the integration of health care activities. Operational, technical, and political support would be needed. Allocation of tasks would be facilitated. Basic child care would have the support of national agencies concerned with child health, development, and protection, and external agencies.

MeSH terms

  • Community Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Comprehensive Health Care / organization & administration
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Humans
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • World Health Organization