As a physician, I know firsthand the important role that primary health care plays in the health of individuals, families, and communities.

When it works well, it is the foundation of a good life and a thriving national health care system.

When it is weak, people suffer. We've seen that play out, with tragic consequences, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Primary health care has been the weakest link in the pandemic response despite its importance in "flattening the curve" through such measures as surveillance, testing and contact tracing, and in keeping hospitals from overflowing with critically ill patients.

Though the pandemic has shone a light on the weaknesses of countries' health systems, it has also highlighted the important role that primary health care can play during health emergencies.

A new report by the World Bank, "Walking the Talk: Reimagining Primary Health Care After COVID-19", shows how countries can revitalize their primary health care systems to improve health outcomes and be better prepared for the next global pandemic.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 7 2021, of The Himalayan Times.