health worker giving vaccines to newborn

Primary Health Care

Primary health care (PHC) is an essential foundation for a long and healthy life. PHC can provide up to 90 percent of health services needed during someone’s lifetime. It also promotes health awareness through disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment and is the first line of defense against emerging infectious diseases. USAID works with countries to strengthen PHC by investing in the health systems that make it possible. We work with countries to strengthen the allocation of resources for PHC and their local capacity to deliver it more equitably and affordably to meet the needs of communities. We also invest in the health workforce - everyone from nurses and midwives to community health volunteers - who are critical for delivering PHC and who are on the frontlines of global health security. 

Primary Text

“To help countries on their path to Universal Health Coverage, we start by strengthening primary health care. That means putting an emphasis on bolstering health systems, investing in frontline health workers, and shifting our collective focus to connecting people to care.”

Secondary Text

—Atul Gawande, USAID Assistant Administrator for Global Health 


Primary Impact

USAID's Primary Impact is an effort to improve primary health care outcomes by building more intentional linkages across USAID’s current global health programs and initiatives to further strengthen primary health care in Primary Impact's focus countries. It accelerates the efficient use of resources - by working with countries’ strategies to help them accelerate a more integrated approach to providing primary health care - and getting health care to people where they need it and when they need it.

This will better equip country health systems to respond to health emergencies and address their population’s lifetime health needs. In the focus countries, strategic health workforce investments and coordination to deliver primary health care services will be highly encouraged and will serve as a model for other countries on Global Health Worker Initiative (GHWI) implementation.


Community-based Primary Health Care is Critical

Community-based health services are a critical component of primary health care and as a means of achieving health for all. USAID supports countries to institute national community health policies that recognize the role of communities in planning, managing, and monitoring the quality of their primary health care. 

In 2023, USAID supported a global knowledge exchange on scaling and sustaining community health policies and programs during the 3rd International Community Health Worker Symposium. The resulting Monrovia Call to Action calls on countries to invest in community health programs as an integral path to universal health coverage.

This is a growing area of priority for our work at USAID, including within the Community Health Delivery Partnership (CHDP) launched in 2023 together with UNICEF, WHO, and other global and regional partners to accelerate the objectives of the Community Health Roadmap. USAID is working with CHDP partners and national governments to improve access to and use of standardized data to identify policy and program gaps and align investments and catalytic action to advance community health worker status, rights, and protections.


Every year on December 12, USAID recognizes Universal Health Coverage Day to reinforce that every person has the right to access quality health services, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. An important step in achieving universal health coverage is organizing health systems and service delivery around local communities and empowering them to take a more active role in their health. Ninety percent of essential health services a person needs throughout their lifetime can be delivered through primary health care, making adequate primary health care at the community level urgent as inequities widen in the face of climate change, food insecurity, conflicts, economic crises, and other threats to the health and well-being of women, children, and adolescents.

How We Support Primary Health Care