“Money alone is not the answer [… ] Strong primary health care is capable of meeting the vast majority of communities’ diverse health needs.” – PHCPI Strategy.
Last September 2015, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the “Primary Health Care Performance Initiative Strategy” (PHCPI) initiative, aimed at supporting developing countries in the improvement of their Primary Healthcare Services.
At medicusmundi we are glad that this initiative exists and that it constitutes another contribution to the right to health. It would appear that the message we have been disseminating for years is gradually taking hold on the people who control the funds.
It is important to remember that, in our efforts to obtain support for the Primary Health Care (PHC) cause, we delivered our message to all the Mozambiques’s health sector donors in the Sector Wide Approach in Health (SWAp). We arrived with arguments, experiences, ideas and dreams so as to introduce our strategy “PHC: Let’s make it happen”.
This strategy is meant to revitalize the operational principles of PHC at Mozambique through the strengthening of the Healthcare System, the promotion of PHC within the training, teaching and research programmes and agendas and the defense of this social-sanitary approach as the best option developing, and the rest of countries, have to ensure the right to health.
It was undoubtedly a fruitful and interesting day of work, but the fact is that transferring this idea to the main Mozambiques’s health sector donors felt like coming up against a brick wall. There were many comments calling us “utopian dreamers“. Many of the donors relied on sentiments such as “that is impossible, it is a thing of the past, these are new times we live in, and the efforts must be put into vertical funds”. I wonder whether the donors meeting that day would have told Bill Gates that he was a utopian dreamer. I believe they would have rather warmly applauded him.
In any case, the patience and the conviction that we are on the right path gives us strength to persevere in this fight; we did not falter at that moment nor we will in the future. Since that day’s presentation, we have stayed the course and many are joining our cause. We will not put our dream aside, a dream of a whole nation that wants health to be a right accessible to all.
The PHCPI is a step forward from a powerful actor in the sector, yet we must go beyond. The PHCPI aims to improve the Healthcare Information System and strengthen the National Health Systems, which is a significant endeavour; nevertheless, if we really want to improve the Mozambican people’s health this will not be enough. The Health Care System is just another determinant of the population’s health, but it is not the only one. We must approach, once and for all, the social determinants of health and ensure that the socio-economical and political environment bolsters health as a right.
We wish to welcome Mr. and Ms. Gates, the WB and the WHO to this path. From medicusmundi we hope to meet you all on this path and to work together in this great challenge.
Ivan Zahinos Ruiz
Head of Cooperation Projects, medicusmundi Catalunya
Translated from Spanish into English by Alba Sánchez Mascuñano
Foto: David Goehring