Globally, health systems are overburdened as they balance the demands of responding to COVID-19 while maintaining equitable access to routine and essential services.

While the morbidity and mortality directly attributed to COVID-19 is likely to be high in many countries, evidence from past disasters and outbreaks shows that indirect mortality from other preventable and treatable diseases can be staggering when access to care is reduced. Recent modeling suggests that excess mortality due to disruptions in routine and essential services caused by COVID-19 may be orders of magnitude higher than deaths directly attributable to COVID-19 in many LMICs.

Maintaining continuity of service delivery for routine and essential care is necessary for minimizing excess morbidity and mortality and maintaining population trust in the health system. As a patient’s first point of contact for care and as a cornerstone of a sustainable health system, PHC has a critical role to play in maintaining continuity of routine and essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, we highlight three strategies—drawing from PHCPI’s Improvement Strategies—and promising country examples for how PHC systems can be leveraged in these efforts.

As a patient’s first point of contact for care, PHC has a critical role to play in maintaining continuity of essential services.

PHC Advocacy & Engagement Resources for COVID-19

Primary Sources Weekly Blog

Voices of practitioners and others on the front lines of PHC who are working tirelessly to keep this pandemic at bay and to continue to deliver essential health care

What We're Reading PHCPI Newsletter

Stay up to date on the latest from PHCPI with our What We're Reading newsletter.

PHCPI Community of Practice Online Forum

Share experiences, stories, tools, approaches and resources via the online forum.

PHCPI Messaging Materials Toolkit

Foundational messages about how and why stakeholders can – and must – center PHC as a key component of the COVID-19 response.