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Primary care promotes wellness and prevents disease. This care includes health promotion, education, protection (such as immunizations), early disease screening, and environmental considerations. Settings providing this type of healthcare include physician offices, public health clinics, school nursing, and community health nursing.

In 1978, international leaders convened in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, for what would be a pivotal event in global health. The Alma-Ata Declaration was the first to call for immediate and effective national and international action to both create and implement primary healthcare worldwide. Forty years later, leaders and stakeholders from the government, commercial sectors, and civil society have returned to Kazakhstan. The Global Conference on Primary Health Care was held in Astana, Kazakhstan in October 2018 and endorsed primary healthcare as the most effective and efficient strategy for achieving universal health coverage and sustainable development goals.

A primary healthcare system includes three components: fulfilling people's health needs throughout their lifetime, addressing the larger determinants of health via multi-sectoral policy and action, and enabling individuals, families, and communities to take ownership of their own health.

Primary healthcare (PHC) is founded on social justice, equity, solidarity, and participation. Furthermore, PHC centers on the idea that the enjoyment of the best achievable level of health is a fundamental right of all human beings without exception. PHC is critical in making health systems more robust to crisis circumstances, more proactive in detecting early indicators of epidemics, and better prepared to act quickly in response to surges in demand for services. Although the data is still emerging, there is universal agreement that PHC serves as the health system's "front door" and as the foundation for enhancing important public health activities in the face of public health emergencies.

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