WHO Primary Health Care (PHC) Demonstration Platforms – an innovative approach to enhancing PHC transformation

The WHO Regional Office for Europe launched two PHC demonstration platforms in 2022 – one in Kazakhstan and one in Sweden. The platform in Kazakhstan demonstrates the shift from a biomedical model to a holistic, multidisciplinary team-based model with strong elements of mental health care and social work. The recently launched platform in Sweden demonstrates a model of PHC service delivery in a remote, sparsely populated area that integrates digital solutions with in-person service delivery to bridge access gaps.

The experience of the WHO PHC demonstration platform

PHC demonstration platforms will be set up to showcase powerful PHC systems. They demonstrate how receiving countries have reorganized their model of care and aligned system requirements such as governance and human resources to support the new model.

The PHC Demonstration Platform experience is structured as a 4-5 day visit connecting national and regional policy makers and practitioners from host and host countries. The host countries will learn about the vision and model of the PHC in the host country and have the opportunity to engage with decision-makers to gain a practical understanding of how a vision can be translated into reality by overcoming implementation barriers.

In this way, visiting delegations can learn more about the implementation of the PHC transformation and discover ways to draw on the experiences of other countries. The WHO European Center for Primary Health Care adapts the program to the current needs and circumstances of the host country and provides technical support for further implementation.

PHC demonstration platform in Kazakhstan

The PHC demonstration platform in Kazakhstan was launched in March 2022 by Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, and Dr. Azhar Giniyat, Minister of Health of Kazakhstan.

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During the launch, Dr. Kluge: “Tell me and I will listen; teach me and I will remember; Involve me and I will learn. That is the approach of the new initiative, WHO’s demonstration platform for primary health care. It goes beyond just writing reports or developing best practice guidelines. It shows countries what effective primary health care looks like in practice and engages them in their processes.”

Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan were the first countries to visit Kazakhstan’s platform. Both delegations were composed of policy makers from the countries’ health ministries, regional health managers, medical university professors, nurses and general practitioners.

During the multi-day visits in March and September 2022, the guest delegations participated in tailor-made training programs at the Enbekshikazakh Primary Health Care Center of Excellence in Almaty Oblast. They learned firsthand how the district is transforming the PHC system in rural areas through expanded multidisciplinary PHC teams.

The groups discussed how to adapt these best practices from Kazakhstan to the realities and needs of their countries, how to overcome implementation barriers, build on success factors and bring together the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders, including service users, to improve their PHC to strengthen systems.

PHC demonstration platform in Sweden

Sweden is a PHC pioneer, not only bringing services closer to everyone, but also tackling the root causes of disease with innovative solutions. The country’s PHC demonstration platform, based in the province of Västerbotten in southern Lapland, was unveiled to the world public on October 18, 2022.

The platform demonstrates how primary health care can adapt to the realities and needs of rural, sparsely populated and remote areas such as Southern Lapland by expanding the scope of GPs and nurses and applying innovative and remote delivery solutions, including drone technology and a wide range of telemedicine applications.

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This successful model combines face-to-face, digital and mobile delivery of advanced PHC services across multiple platforms. Patients are assisted in seamlessly navigating their care pathways and empowered with a range of digital solutions to self-manage based on their needs. This is supported by strong system requirements such as funding and health care workforce policies.

Such system-wide innovation requires active and supportive leadership and a collaborative culture of diverse stakeholders. These factors make the Swedish platform an excellent example of countries that have embarked on far-reaching PHC reforms for rural and remote populations.

Georgia was the first country to visit the platform in Sweden. PHC reform is high on the country’s agenda to achieve universal health coverage and better health outcomes. The future model of rural healthcare in Georgia includes the transition from individual rural practices to network-based PHC with the integration of telehealth and telemedicine solutions. The study visit to Sweden offered excellent opportunities to develop a differentiated design for the new model.

The WHO PHC demonstration platforms are open to questions and visits from other countries in the WHO European Region, with the support and coordination of the WHO European Center for Primary Health Care.

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