master’s degree in primary health care

Last Updated on December 23, 2022

What is primary health care course?

Introduction. Primary Health is a course aimed at the student who would like to obtain a qualification in the community orientated primary health. The qualification covers both the theoretical and practical experience required which will be through both simulation and practical experience in the “real world”

Read more about Master’s Degree In Primary Health Care, Masters In Primary Health Care, masters in primary care uk, masters in family medicine uk, general practice msc, and primary care degree.

The power of primary health care | The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and  World News — Opinion — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

How many years does it take to study primary health care?

The BTech: Primary Health care qualification is offered as a one-year full time or two-year part time programme at NQF Level 7. Full time students have one year to complete the course while part time students have two years to complete the course.

What is Primary Health Care (PHC)?

  • Primary Health Care (PHC) is the health care that is available to all the people at the first level of health care.
  • According to World Health Organization (WHO), ‘Primary Health Care is a basic health care and is a whole of society approach to healthy well-being, focused on needs and priorities of individuals, families and communities.’
  • Primary Health Care (PHC) is a new approach to health care which integrates at the community level all the factors required for improving the health status of the population.
  • Primary health care is both a philosophy of health care and an approach to providing health services.
  • It addresses the expansive determining factor of health and ensures whole person care for health demands during the course of the natural life.
  • It is developed with the concept that the people of the country receive at least the basic minimum health services that are essential for their good health and care.

History of Primary Health Care:

  • Before 1978, globally, existing health services were failing to provide quality health care to the people.
  • Different alternatives and ideas failed to establish a well-functioning health care system.
  • Considering these issues, a joint WHO-UNICEF international conference was held in 1978 in Alma Ata (USSR), commonly known as Alma-Ata conference.
  • The conference included participation from government from 134 countries and other different agencies.
  • The conference jointly called for a revolutionary approach to the health care.
  • The conference declared ‘The existing gross inequality in the health status of people particularly between developed and developing countries as well as within countries is politically, socially and economically unacceptable’.
  • Thus, the Alma-Ata conference called for acceptance of WHO goal of ‘Health for All’ by 2000 AD.
  • Furthermore, it proclaimed Primary Health Care (PHC) as a way to achieve ‘Health for All’.
  • In this way, the concept of Primary Health Care (PHC) came into existence globally in 1978 from the Alma-Ata Conference.

Objectives of Primary Health Care (PHC):

  • To increase the programs and services that affect the healthy growth and development of children and youth.
  • To boost participation of the community with government and community sectors to improve the health of their community.
  • To develop community satisfaction with the primary health care system.
  • To support and advocate for healthy public policy within all sectors and levels of government.
  • To support and encourage the implementation of provincial public health policies and direction.
  • To provide reasonable and timely access to primary health care services.
  • To apply the standards of accountability in professional practice.
  • To establish, within available resources, primary health care teams and networks.
  • To support the provision of comprehensive, integrated, and evidence-based primary health care services.
11 Basic Requirements of Primary Health Care (PHC)

 Five (5) Principles of Primary Health Care (PHC):

  • Social equity
  • Nation-wide coverage/wider coverage
  • Self- reliance
  • Intersectoral coordination
  • People’s involvement (in planning and implementation of programs)

What are the Pillars of Primary Health Care (PHC)?

pillars of primary health care

                                 FIG: PILLARS OF PRIMARY HEALTH CARE

  • Primary health care consists of an integrative group of health care professionals coordinating to provide basic health care services to a particular group of people or population.
  • The Primary Health care outline is built on four key pillars.
  • These pillars are reinforcement for the delivery of safe health care.

The four major pillars of primary health care are as follows:

  1. Community Participation
  2. Inter-sectoral Coordination
  3. Appropriate Technology
  4. Support Mechanism Made Available

1. Community Participation

  • Community participation is a process in which community people are engaged and participated in making decisions about their own health.
  • It is a social approach to point out the health care needs of the community people.
  • Community participation involves participation of the community people from identifying the health needs of the community, planning, organizing, decision making and implementation of health programs.
  • It also ensures effective and strategic planning and evaluation of health care services.
  • In lack of community participation, the health programs cannot run smoothly and universal achievement by primary health care cannot be achieved.

2. Inter-sectoral Coordination

  • Inter-sectoral coordination plays a vital role in performing different functions in attaining health services.
  • The involvement of specialized agency, private sectors, and public sectors is important to achieve improved health facilities.
  • Intersectoral coordination will ensure different sectors to collaborate and function interdependently to meet the health care needs of the people.
  • It also refers to delivering health care services in an integrated way.
  • Therefore, the departments like agriculture, animal husbandry, food, industry, education, housing, public works, communication, and other sectors need to be involved in achieving health for all.

3. Appropriate Technology

  • Appropriate healthcare technologies are an important strategy for improving the availability and accessibility of healthcare services.
  • It has been defined as ‘’technology that is scientifically sound, adaptable to local needs and acceptable to those who apply it and to whom it is applied and that can be maintained by people themselves in keeping with the principle of self-reliance with the resources the community and country can afford.’’
  • Appropriate technology refers to using cheaper, scientifically valid and acceptable equipment and techniques.
  • It is also necessary to ensure that the technology is:
    • Scientifically reliable and valid
    • Adapted to local needs
    • Acceptable to the community people
    • Accessible and affordable by the local resources

4. Support Mechanism Made Available

  • Support Mechanism is vital to health and quality of life. Support mechanism in primary health care is a well-known process focused to develop the quality of life.
  • Support mechanism includes that the people are getting personal, physical, mental, spiritual and instrumental support to meet goals of primary health care.
  • Primary health care depends on adequate number and distribution of trained physicians, nurses, community health workers, allied health professions and others working as a health team and supported at the local and referral levels.

Elements/Components of PHC:

  • There are eight (8) elements of Primary Health Care.
  • These 8 elements are also known as ‘essential health care’. They are:

What are the requirements of primary health care?

A primary health care approach includes three components:

  • meeting people’s health needs throughout their lives;
  • addressing the broader determinants of health through multisectoral policy and action; and.
  • empowering individuals, families and communities to take charge of their own health.
University of Otago - Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo


The Master of Primary Health Care (MPHC) degree is is a nationally-recognised multidisciplinary advanced qualification for health professionals engaged in the delivery of primary health care. It provides an appropriate advanced multidisciplinary qualification for students who have completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Health Care (PGDipPHC).

A Master’s research thesis or Master’s portfolio programme can be designed and completed on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with a supervisory team. There are a total of three different ways of completing this 120 point degree:

  1. Solely by thesis –  students must have already completed an approved 30 point research methods paper
  2. Solely by portfolio – students must have already completed an approved 30 point research methods paper
  3. By submitting a shorter (90 point) portfolio and completing an approved 30 point research methods paper

Graduates will have specific skills to enable them to deliver, and if appropriate, to practise safe, effective, and culturally sensitive primary health care. As the students will come from differing backgrounds ( for example, medical, nursing, pharmacy, physiotherapy, management) these skills may be oriented towards management, clinical practice, basic primary care research or a combination of these.

As a consequence of the multidisciplinary nature of the programme, the graduate will gain an advanced appreciation of team dynamics in the primary health care setting. The team approach, now so essential to professional practitioners in primary health care, will be fostered and confirmed.

The graduate will have an advanced understanding of the nature and practice of primary health care, advanced training in personally selected areas of practice, and experience in working with other health professionals involved in primary health care. In addition, the graduate will have the ability and skills to independently set up and carry out relevant research within the primary health care field, and to be able to contribute significantly to new knowledge and/or developments in health care delivery.

These graduates will provide an educated resource for future primary health planning and education.

The Master of Primary Health Care (MPHC) is also available through Distance Learning.

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Contact Details

Postgraduate Coordinator
Department of Primary Health Care and General Practice
University of Otago, Wellington
Tel 04 918 5626
Email [email protected]
Website Postgraduate Programmes at the Department of Primary Health Care and General Practice

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Regulations for the Degree of Master of Primary Health Care (MPHC)

  1. Admission to the Programme
    1. Admission to the programme shall be subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) on the advice of the Academic Board of the Otago Medical School, which must be satisfied that the applicant has the ability and experience to proceed to the programme.
    2. Every applicant shall
      1. hold the Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Health Care, or
      2. hold an equivalent qualification approved by the Academic Board of the Otago Medical School, or
      3. have been admitted ad eundem statum as entitled to proceed to the degree, and
      4. have completed the prerequisite papers:
        • PRHC 701 New Zealand Primary Health Care or PRHC 703 Strategy and Leadership in Primary Health Care (30 points);
          and either
        • HASC 417 Health Sciences Research Methods
          or equivalent research paper(s) approved by the Academic Board of the Otago Medical School.
    3. In exceptional circumstances the Academic Board of the Otago Medical School may approve an exemption from the specified prerequisites.
  2. Structure of the Programme
    1. The programme of study shall consist of one of the following:
      1. a thesis on an approved topic (120 points); or
      2. a research portfolio (120 points); or
      3. a research portfolio (90 points) plus approved research methods papers(s) worth 30 points.
    2. A candidate may not present a thesis or research portfolio which has previously been accepted, in whole or in part, for another degree.
    3. The programme of study including as appropriate, the topic of the thesis or research portfolio and the supervisors of the research, or the component papers shall be approved by the Academic Board of the Otago Medical School.
    4. For the thesis, the research should be of a kind that a diligent and competent student should complete within one year of full-time study.
  3. Duration of the ProgrammeThe degree will normally be completed on a part-time basis. The degree shall normally require not less than two years of part-time study (or one year of full-time study) and not more than four years of part-time study (or two years of full-time study). Exceptions shall be permitted only with the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences).
  4. Examination of the Thesis or Portfolio
    1. The thesis or portfolio shall be assessed by at least two examiners, at least one of whom shall be external to the University.
    2. The candidate’s supervisor shall not be an examiner but may make a report on the work of the candidate to the Dean of the Otago Medical School.
    3. Each examiner shall supply a written report on the thesis or portfolio and recommend a mark and grade on the basis of the work as submitted, and an overall result selected from the options specified in clause (d) below.
    4. The examiners may recommend that a thesis or portfolio:
      1. be accepted without amendments;
      2. be accepted subject to amendments being made at the discretion and to the satisfaction of the Dean of the Otago Medical School;
      3. does not meet the criteria for the award of the degree, but may be revised and resubmitted for examination;
      4. does not meet the criteria for the award of the degree, and should be rejected without right of resubmission.
    5. Amendments (regulation 4(d)(ii)) and revisions (regulation 4(d)(iii)) shall be completed by a specified date to be determined by the Dean of the Otago Medical School.
    6. A candidate shall be permitted to revise and resubmit a thesis or portfolio for examination once only.
    7. If a revised and resubmitted thesis or portfolio is finally accepted, the result shall be either Pass or Fail (i.e. ungraded) and without eligibility for the award of the degree with distinction or credit.
    8. Where examiners cannot agree on a result, the Dean of the Otago Medical School shall report to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) or nominee who shall arrive at a decision after consulting a referee who should normally be external to the University.
    9. The candidate may be required to take an oral examination in the field of knowledge in which the thesis or portfolio lies.
  5. Level of Award of the DegreeThe degree may be awarded with distinction or with credit.
  6. VariationsThe Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) may in exceptional circumstances approve a course of study which does not comply with these regulations.

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