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Strengthening Primary Health Care Across the World: Problem Solving Seminar

2nd term
International Health
3 credits
Academic Year:
2022 - 2023
Instruction Method:
Asynchronous Online with Some Synchronous Online
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Undergrads Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructors:
Rajani Ved

• Enrolled in the first year of the DrPH program, or with permission from the instructor • Completed Introduction to Online Learning


While it is widely recognized that strong primary health care (PHC) is fundamental to improving health outcomes, relatively few countries have strong primary health care systems. Governments struggle to define and take to scale effective strategies that can promote primary health care, reorient resources towards less privileged populations and deliver integrated, people-centered services. This course seeks to solve why this is the case and what can be done. Take this class to learn how to engage communities and other critical stakeholders, tackle inequities and build societal trust in health systems, so as to develop and deliver at scale effective PHC strategies.

Uses interactive case-based and problem-based strategies to provide a 360 degree perspective on the challenges that typically undermine PHC strengthening, from articulating the relationship between PHC and the rest of the health system to measuring the impact of PHC. Equips students to develop pragmatic strategies that can address inequity in health systems, and promotes inclusion within public health programs through the use of primary health care strategies. Addresses multiple aspects of PHC strengthening from building coalitions to support primary health care, to engaging communities in the delivery of PHC services, to the use of implementation research to fine tune PHC strategies. Focuses on genuine country experiences and problems this seminar draws upon relevant bodies of theory from health systems, social and behavioral theory, social epidemiology, social justice and political science to craft practical strategies to strengthen PHC across the world.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the political economy of public health strategies that seek to redistribute resources especially from more affluent populations to more marginalized ones
  2. Integrate knowledge of cultural values and practices in the design of primary health care policies and programs
  3. Communicate public health science to diverse stakeholders, including individuals at all levels of health literacy, as well as stakeholders outside of the health sector for the purpose of influencing health behavior and policies across sectors
  4. Analyze alternative strategies for developing primary health care systems and how they relate to the broader health system
  5. Propose strategies to improve health and eliminate health inequities by organizing stakeholders, including researchers, practitioners, community leaders and other partners, and to promote inclusion and equity within public health programs, policies and systems
  6. Adjust PHC strategies based upon insights from implementation research
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 75% Assignments
  • 25% Participation

Enrollment Restriction:

DrPH students in their first year of study. Other graduate students with instructor consent and if class size permits.

Instructor Consent:

Consent required for all students

Consent Note:

DrPH students in their first year of study. Consent required for all students. Email Dr. Kumwenda at

For consent, contact:

Special Comments:

DrPH students in their first year of study. Consent required for all students. Email Dr. Kumwenda at for permission