OECD Policy Responses to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Strengthening the frontline: How primary health care helps health systems adapt during the COVID 19 pandemic
Feb. 10, 2021
Health systems continue to adapt to cope with the COVID‑19 pandemic. Much focus has been placed on the scaling-up of hospital capacities. However, the pandemic is also deeply affecting the health of many people who are not infected by the virus. People living with chronic conditions are not only highly vulnerable to complications and death from COVID‑19, but they are also suffering from disruptions to their regular care routines.
The COVID‑19 crisis demonstrates the importance of placing primary health care at the core of health systems, both to manage an unexpected surge of demand and to maintain continuity of care for all. Strong primary health care – organised in multi-disciplinary teams and with innovative roles for health professionals, integrated with community health services, equipped with digital technology, and working with well-designed incentives – helps deliver a successful health system response.
The innovations introduced in response to the pandemic need to be maintained to make health systems more resilient against future public health emergencies, and able to meet the challenges of ageing societies and the growing burden of chronic conditions.