Objective: To explore historically primary healthcare (PHC) development in Iran in the light of development plans before and after the Islamic Revolution. The results of this study can be used to outline the future of PHC in the Iranian health system.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of the PHC development in the Iranian health system using data from relevant published and unpublished policy documents. The literature was retrieved and reviewed on the basis of predetermined inclusion criteria with no language or date restriction. The data were integrated and analyzed using content analysis.
Results: During various upstream development plans, the attitude of the policy makers to PHC has been very different, resulting in fundamental differences in addressing such an important issue and the consequent outcomes. In the aftermath of Iran’s revolution, due to more understanding of PHC services importance and the principal slogans of the revolution to pay attention to villagers and vulnerable people, health policymakers paid more attention to PHC, which was not evident in previous periods.
Conclusions: Despite considerable achievements in PHC, the history of PHC in Iran indicates frequent changes in planning and health provision structure. This suggests that the challenges facing the health sector today, the evolving needs and demands of the people, and population changes necessitate reinforcement and reform in the structure of the current PHC network as the main mission of Iran’s Ministry of Health.