Primary Health Care and Aging
Edited Proceedings of the Consultative Group Meeting on Geriatric Training in Primary Health Care
From 21-25 February 2000, in San Jose, Costa Rica, a WHO Consultative Group was held on the topic of Primary Health Care for Older Persons, with representatives from 13 countries from around the world, as well as Headquarters and Regional offices of WHO and the private sector. In the policy statement that emerged from the meeting four basic principles were highlighted: universal accessibility and coverage on the basis of need, community and individual involvement, intersectoral action for health, and appropriate use of cost effective technologies in relation to the available resources. Three complementary integration functions are mentioned: functional with an integrated approach to the health needs of individuals over their life course taking precedence over episodic management of disease; organizational, with a focus on how health centers should function with interdisciplinary teams; and educational which addresses the knowledge and skills and attitudes needed by health professionals that will facilitate communication, networking, advocacy and mediation of resources. The proceedings go on to outline the objectives to be included in national plans on health of older people, as well as the extended benefits and outcomes to be expected from PHC strategies for older people. In promoting quality of care for older persons, positive and negative factors are mentioned, as are strategies to: stimulate interest in geriatric care, motivate general practitioners to focus on the care of elders, encourage teamwork among PHC staff, and encourage multi-sectoral collaboration in promoting the health of older persons. An example is provided of healthy ageing from Canada. The recommendations include defining and measuring an ageing friendly health center (with specific indicators for the latter), defining the role of the PHC team in promoting healthy ageing, characteristics that programs should have to promote “age friendly” services in the primary care setting, and outcome indicators for quality of care of elders at the PHC level.