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Lessons for the Design of Comprehensive Primary Healthcare in India: A Qualitative Study

Dorothy Lall, Swathi S Balachandra, Priya Prabhu, Dharmendhar Kumar, Tushar Mokashi and N Devadasan


Health systems with strong comprehensive primary health care (CPHC) are known to result in better health outcomes for people. In India, there is a recent push to strengthen CPHC through Ayushman Bharat. This study aimed to document lessons from successful CPHC initiatives in rural and urban India using a qualitative case study approach. A total of 72 CPHC initiatives were identified through desk review and 12 of these were studied as cases. The following two main models of CPHC delivery were seen in India: (a) a hospital or health centre with outreach and (b) social franchising model, prevalent in rural and urban contexts, respectively. Themes identified were related to organisation of services, workforce, financing and challenges in practice. Services being comprehensive, dialoguing with the community, addressing social determinants were themes under organisation of services. There is need for more generalists and training health professionals towards CPHC. Financing of CPHC especially in the rural context remains a major challenge and cannot be sustained with user fees. Leadership, values, team-based care and organisational culture play a vital role in the delivery of good quality CPHC. These findings contribute to the literature on what works and why, which could be used to design CPHC in India.


Primary healthcare, India, rural/urban, policies, comprehensive healthcare, community health services

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