Nongovernmental organizations have a long history of active involvement in the promotion of human well-being. In particular, NGOs provide important links between the community and government. They possess certain strengths and characteristics that enable them to function as effective and dynamic agents in this process. In addition, they have exhibited a special capacity to work within the community in response to expressed needs. They have a flexibility and freedom to respond in innovative and creative ways to a wide range of requests and situations.
Primary Health Care and Development Nongovernmental organizations support the view that the promotion of primary health care must be closely tied to a concern for total human development. The totality of human development and, in fact, a holistic view of health encompasses the physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being of the individual. III-health comes to rich and poor alike. However, much ill-health is a result of poverty and in itself is a serious barrier to breaking out of the bondage of poverty. Thus substantial improvements in the well- being of people cannot be expected merely as a result of better health care, but requires a whole range of social, economic, political, and cultural activities, i.e., primary health care must be an integral part of the overall development of society.
What NGOs Can Do
1. At all stages in the development of primary health care programs, NGOs can be effective. Recognition by government of the contributions NGOs can make in support of primary health care will ensure maximum benefits of these contributions to the national health program.
2. NGOs can work for greater understanding and positive attitudes toward primary health care by:
(a) promoting dialogue both within and among NGOs;
(b) Sustaining dialogue with governmental authorities;
(c) Providing information and creating new ways of explaining primary health care to the general public; and (d) strengthening means of communication to accomplish this.
3. NGOs can assist national policy formation in the areas of health care and integrated human development. They can present health care needs based on their contacts with communities, and they can also interpret primary health care plans to relevant donor agencies.
4. NGOs can establish means for greater collaboration and coordination of primary health care activities. This can be done among NGOs and between them and governments, locally, nationally, and internationally