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The quality of primary care health centres in Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Background: Primary healthcare strategies have been included in the health policies of many countries since the 1970s. The aim of this study was to evaluate the quality of care provided by primary care health centres (PCHCs) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Methods: We surveyed 20% of PCHCs in Buenos Aires State to investigate the structure, process and results of care. Variables related to 'structure' included human resources, qualifications and skills, geographical coverage and buildings. 'Process' variables were: shift handling, service organisation and demand planning. 'Outcome' or 'results' indicators included vaccination coverage, percentage of pregnant women attending before the 12th week, percentage of children consulting, and patient satisfaction.

Results: Our evaluation showed deficiencies in the structure and processes of care, and serious shortfalls in outcomes. Health teams in PCHCs lacked knowledge about the demography, health needs, and population statistics relating to their area of responsibility. Valid information was only available for the 13% of the population who sought help from the PCHC. As a result, there was low vaccination coverage (63.6%), low levels of child health surveillance (38.8%), and poor early detection of pregnancy (6.9%).

Conclusion: Attention to these areas of deficiency could improve the quality of health care and outcomes for the communities of Buenos Aires.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata and Medicos en Prevencion, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2: Ministerio de Salud, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina

Publication date: August 1, 2009

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