Train more family physicians to strengthen primary healthcare – Society of Family physicians to Government

The Society of Family Physicians of Ghana wants the government to support the training of more family physicians to take care of primary healthcare nationwide.

They believe this will help strengthen Ghana’s healthcare system and reduce premature deaths, particularly from preventable chronic and other diseases.

In a 2018 report, the United Nations indicated that 41 million people died prematurely from preventable chronic diseases annually.

Health experts have therefore emphasised the need to pay serious attention to the treatment of chronic diseases.

According to the Society, its members manage most chronic medical conditions in the country, and as a result, play a key role in Ghana’s healthcare delivery system, hence the need for them to be given the needed attention.

Based on this, the 2021 World Family Doctor Day, celebrated in Kumasi, was under the theme ‘Building the future with family doctors in the management of chronic conditions’.

In line with this, the Society of Family Physicians of Ghana wants the government to place its members in all district hospitals across the country to ensure effective health service delivery.

The group is also calling on the government and the Medical and Dental Council to equip medical doctors who go on houseman-ship with expertise in family medicine.

“We are calling on the government to ensure that family physicians are placed at the right level of care in the healthcare delivery system because as of now, there are some District hospitals in Ghana without family physicians. We think that family physicians should be at every district hospital. Secondly, during houseman-ship training, the traditional levels of rotation are, internal medicine, surgery, obstetric and gynaecology and paediatrics.”

“They have now added emergency medicine, but housemen don’t go through training in family medicine. Most of them are posted to hospitals as medical doctors without family medicine experience. So we call on government and the Medical and Dental Council and other stakeholders to facilitate the process where housemen will pass through family medicine training,” President of the Society of Family Physicians of Ghana, Dr. Emmanuel Ati stated.

Capacity Building

The Family Physicians also want the government to help build the capacity of more medical doctors in family medicine.

“The expectation is that we get more family doctors at the base so that we take care of primary healthcare, but I think the rate of qualifying especially the fellows has been a bit slow. I think that has to do with building research capacity,” Dr. Akye Essuman, Faculty chair, Faculty of Family Medicine, Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons added.

The Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare, urged the Ministry of Health and the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons to see the training of family physicians as a priority since they play a key role in Ghana’s health sector.