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J Am Board Fam Med. 2007 Nov-Dec;20(6):518-26.

Global health and primary care research.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53521, USA.


A strong primary health care system is essential to provide effective and efficient health care in both resource-rich and resource-poor countries. Although a direct link has not been proven, we can reasonably expect better economic status when the health of the population is improved. Research in primary care is essential to inform practice and to develop better health systems and health policies. Among the challenges for primary care, especially in countries with limited resources, is the need to enhance the research capacity and to engage primary care clinicians in the research enterprise. These caregivers need to be an integral part of the research enterprise so the right questions will be asked, the results from research will be used in practice, and a scholarly and evidence-based approach to primary care will become the norm. The challenge of developing research in primary care can be met only by creating a strong infrastructure. This will include strengthening academic departments, enhancing links to researchers in other fields, improving training programs for future primary care researchers, developing more practice-based primary care research networks, and increasing funding for research in primary care. A greatly increased commitment on the part of international organizations both within and outside of primary care is needed, in particular those organizations involved with funding research. We provide suggestions to improve the global primary care research enterprise for the benefit of the world's population.

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