This chapter provides an overview of the role of primary care in the context of global health. Universal health coverage is a key priority for WHO and its member states, and provision of accessible and safe primary care is recognised as essential to meet this important international policy goal. Nevertheless, more than three decades after Alma Ata, the provision of primary health care remains inadequate, indicating that primary care has not received the priority it deserves, in many parts of the world. This is despite the proven health benefits that result from access to comprehensive primary health care. We highlight some examples of good practice and discuss the relevance of primary care in the context of health equity and cost-effectiveness. Challenges that influence the success of primary care include the availability of a qualified workforce, financing and system design and quality assurance and patient safety.