Primary Health Care
The world is ageing fast. Increased longevity is not only a triumph for society but a huge challenge for health systems which need to be prepared to address the needs of older people at the community level. It is paramount that health care workers are well versed in the diagnosis and management of the so called "four giants" of geriatrics (memory loss, urinary incontinence, depression and falls/immobility) as well as the chronic diseases that are common in later life and that can often be prevented or delayed. However, prevention requires reaching the individual before the disease takes hold.
Most preventative health care and early disease screening takes place in Primary Health Care (PHC) centres within health systems. These centres play a critical role in the health of older people worldwide at the local level.
WHO has developed a set of age-friendly primary health care principles that are part of the Perth Framework for Age-Friendly Community-Based Primary Health Care and were finalized during a meeting on age care which took place in Perth, Australia, 2002. These principles, including those which are cross cutting, gender, culture and human right, were used to develop the age friendly standards and to determine what makes primary health care services "age-friendly."
The standards development process included 44 focus group discussions in five countries in order to:
- Document the views of older people as well as health care providers on whether primary health care services are accessible, appropriate and affordable for older persons.
- Identify some of the most common barriers to primary health care for older adults in the areas of information; education; training; management; and the physical environment.
- Establish a set of general principles to be observed when making primary health care more age-friendly.