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The Primary Health Care Department (PHC)

In Palestine, PRCS is directly operating 26 primary health care centers- 21 in the West Bank and 5 in Gaza.
The PHC department offers medical, humanitarian and social services to the Palestinian people. The
department believes that “Health” is a resource that all families should promote and/or restore, and that local
communities are capable to define their health needs within the department’s community-based programs.
In 2003 onwards, the PRCS Primary Health Care Department will continue to provide quality,
comprehensive and financially affordable services to local communities where PRCS exists. The department
seeks to continuously improve the quality of all its services while meeting the healthcare needs of local
communities. The PHC centers will maximize collaboration with PRCS branches and fully support the
process of community organization while facing the prevailing challenges of the present Palestinian
circumstances.
The Primary Health Care components
Community organization
Community organization addresses processes and institutions through which community members participate
in health promotion and protection. This includes involvement of community members in decision making
related to planning health activities and sustaining health projects/programs.
Through this function communities are assisted to improve their health and to take advantage of development
opportunities. Community members are involved in health programs so that their needs are addressed in the
PHC activities.
The process of community organization varies from one community to the other and depends on the nature of
the program and health priorities of each community.
The department believes that community organization contributes to establishing, sustaining and promoting
the utilization of services. The first and most essential step in initiating a health program is to establish a
positive rapport with target groups. This rapport is expected to promote a sense of ownership of project
activities- thus contributing to its success.
Health education
Good communication with clients can stimulate the utilization of services. People respond positively when
they have their questions answered privately and respectfully.
All possible communication channels are used to reach the target population such as printed materials, home
visits and reaching out to groups and individuals. PHC staff use appropriate technical terminology during the
health talks to insure that clients understand the health messages and apply them correctly.
PHC staff members do their best to present knowledge in a way that it does not conflict with the existing
attitudes and beliefs, e.g. when addressing family planning issues. It is essential that PHC staff understands
and respect the attitudes, beliefs and culture, which determine the people’s health behavior.
PHC staff members identify the health education needs in targeted communities and address them in the
most appropriate manner. Health education programs are developed, implemented and evaluated. Programs
always ensure that community health needs are met and health problems are addressed.

Home Based Care
Health starts at home. Family members live at home healthy, or burdened with risks or health
problems. At home, decisions affecting the health of families are made- by mother, father or other
family member.
Home based care targets persons with life style diseases, high-risk pregnancies, newborns, elderly, and other
persons with special health care needs. Being at home with the patient and family, Community Health Teams
have the opportunity to teach self-care, address health education needs and assist individuals and families in
making appropriate decisions regarding their health. The importance of Home Based Care can never be over
emphasized.
Woman and Child Health
Healthy women mean healthy mothers and children. Children are the leaders and decision makers of the
future. Consequently, healthy children reflect a healthy community.
The Woman and Child Health project targets women at all stages of life and children up to 3 years.
Traditions, customs, values and habits affecting the health of women and children are identified and
addressed appropriately. Health education is a valuable tool in this respect.
Community Health Teams seek to promote antenatal care, post natal care and child growth monitoring. The
PHC department is currently establishing Safe Motherhood groups in local communities to act as mediators
with the PHC centers and to assist in transmitting correct health messages to local communities.
Dental Care
Dentistry in PHC complements all other PHC technical functions. Preventive and curative dental health
services have been integrated into the PHC activities at several centers as well as in the community based
activities. This project aims at promoting dental health in schools, kindergarten, among pregnant women and
elderly.
Medical Care
PHC seeks to provide quality medical care for the sick as well as for individuals and groups at risk. Around,
49% of patients who receive medical care are 0-6 years of age, which implies the need for developing the
child health component of primary health care.
School Health
The school health component of PHC is coordinated with the Ministry of Education. Accordingly, the society
provides periodic medical and dental check-ups to pupils, and organizes health awareness campaigns and
community-based first aid courses to pupils as well as to schoolteachers in local communities where PRCS
exists.
Diagnostic Services

  1. Laboratory services: Basic laboratory investigations- CBC, sugar, urine and stool analysis, are done
    routinely in all PHC centers. Special chemistry tests are done in most centers as requested. Laboratory
    technicians participate in free medical days whereby free laboratory investigations are done for pupils or
    for other vulnerable groups. The PHC department looks forward for using quality controls in all centers.
  2. X-Ray Services: Limited to Salfeet PHC, Bani Naem PHC and Silwad PHC.

Community Based First Aid
This project is based on three aspects: dissemination of Red Cross and Red Crescent principles, provision of
health awareness sessions, and teaching first aid. The activities are offered through trained technical staff and
volunteers. Target groups are selected in cooperation with local health committees following a
comprehensive assessment of community needs.
Future Plans

  1. Promote the woman and child health component of PHC.
  2. Introduce developmental screening project from birth to 6 years of age.
  3. Promote the role of dentists in preventive oral health.
  4. Maintain quality control in PHC laboratories.
  5. Develop the home-based component of PHC.
  6. Review the role of community health committees in disaster preparedness.
  7. Collaborate with the PRCS branches and other PRCS departments in establishing joint programs.

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