Lessons on the COVID-19 pandemic, for and by primary care professionals worldwide
Rawaf S., Allen LN., Stigler FL., Kringos D., Quezada Yamamoto H., van Weel C.
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. The COVID-19 pandemic has modified organisation and processes of primary care. In this paper, we aim to summarise experiences of international primary care systems. We explored personal accounts and findings in reporting on the early experiences from primary care during the pandemic, through the online Global Forum on Universal Health Coverage and Primary Health Care. During the early stage of the pandemic, primary care continued as the first point of contact to the health system but was poorly informed by policy makers on how to fulfil its role and ill equipped to provide care while protecting staff and patients against further spread of the infection. In many countries, the creativity and initiatives of local health professionals led to the introduction or extension of the use of telephone, e-mail and virtual consulting, and introduced triaging to separate ‘suspected’ COVID-19 from non-COVID-19 care. There were substantial concerns of collateral damage to the health of the population due to abandoned or postponed routine care. The pandemic presents important lessons to strengthen health systems through better connection between public health, primary care, and secondary care to cope better with future waves of this and other pandemics.