Family Physicians play an important role in healthcare; they should get due recognition and scholarship for postgraduate training


 Family Physicians play an important role in
healthcare; they should get due recognition
and scholarship for postgraduate training

FPs have their own Empire, work with dedication but they
must strive for unity among their ranks - Shahzad Ali Khan

LAHORE: One of the sessions during the PSIM Third Annual Conference was devoted to Family Medicine- The backbone of Healthcare. The panelists included Prof. Shahzad Ali Khan Vice Chancellor of Health Services Academy Islamabad, Dr. Tariq Mahmood Mian, Dr. Altaf Cheema, Dr. Arshad Humayun, Dr. Abdul Jalil Khan and Dr. Shehla Naseem from College of Family Medicine, Pakistan. The questions put to the panel included Is the family medicine getting due recognition, How we can promote Family Medicine? What is the way forward and were the family physicians doing justice to their job?

Dr. Tariq Mian pointed out that almost 70% of healthcare in the country was provided by family physicians but they remain neglected in Pakistan. Our healthcare delivery system was not up to the mark. Our seniors are the main hurdle who were not interested to promote the discipline of family medicine, he remarked. In UK, USA, Iran, Canada and many other countries no one can go to a tertiary care hospital without being referred by family physicians. We have no proper training program of family physicians hence many of them are not competent. Many consultants were also doing general practice and we have no proper postgraduate training programme for family physicians. The have no CME programme to update their knowledge either.

Sitting on the dais during panel discussion on Family Medicine at PSIM Third Annual
Conference from (L to R) are Dr. Arshad Humayun, Dr. Jalil, Dr. Tariq Mian,
Dr. Altaf Cheema and Dr. Shehla from CFMP.

Dr. Jalil Khan remarked that family physicians were not getting due recognition. There is fragmentation of medical care into different discipline of medicine. Some years ago CPSP started FCPS in Family Medicine and now we have about sixty FCPS and many with MCPS qualifications in this discipline but they do not get proper recognition. He suggested contracting out primary care to family physicians which will be much more cost effective. It will not only improve primary care but also referral system. Proper training is lacking and they have to compete with quacks. One of the participants remarked that quacks are part of our healthcare system and let them be trained and they should be allowed to practice under supervision of family physicians.

Dr. Arshad Humayun stated that family physicians feel helpless and being harassed by police and income tax departments. Had they got proper recognition, they could have done wonders. Prof. Javed Akram remarked that we do recognize the importance of family physicians; we are not going to compete but complement each other. One of the eminent GP has always won whenever he contested elections. We should not criticize each other but talk about positive things.

Prof. Eice Mohammad along with Prof. Javed Akram, Prof. Aftab Mohsin and Prof. Bikaram
inaugurating the pharma exhibition during the PSIM annual conference at Karachi on May 6th 2022.

Prof. Eice Mohammad remarked that in the past doctors were used to be considered as Angels. There used to be regular clinical conferences for family physicians at some hospitals in Lahore. They need to be affiliated with some medical college. When I was member of PM&DC it was proposed UHS had supported this proposal. We had selected some batches for training and it was also recommended that a department of family medicine should be established in each medical college. It was also highlighted that now there are regular programmes of CME at UHS Lahore.

Dr. Shehla Naseem said that College of Family Medicine Pakistan was established in 1974 and we have been organizing regular CME programmes since 2014. It is recognized by WONCA. After the Covid19 Pandemic we plan to restart this CME programme. We should not underestimate the importance of family physicians. They have no interaction with Tehsil Hospitals. Let us train all those doctors who are practicing in these areas. PMDC or PMC should recognize their CME courses. They are smart holistic doctors. There are good and bad consultants and same is true for family physicians, she added.

Dr. Altaf Cheema participating in the discussion stated that Family Physicians have no representation in regulatory bodies like PMC, they are not asked for input in policy making. They should be provided scholarships for postgraduate studies. We need to establish departments of family medicine and they should be recognized by regulatory bodies which will raise the healthcare standards. Medial students should be encouraged to take up Family Medicine as a career.

A group photograph of some of the distinguished participants of PSIM Third Annual Conference
held at Karachi along with the PSIM Executive.

Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Chief Editor Pulse International remarked that family physicians should try to earn respect rather than demanding respect. Let them improve their competence and abilities, practice ethical medicine, have proper clinics with minimum standards, provide proper waiting area for patients. Once they start providing comprehensive standardized care, they won’t be worried of competing with quacks and patients will prefer to consult them. He also remarked that in the past late S.H. Naqvi in Karachi and Dr. Bashir Malik in Lahore contributed a lot to improve the image of Family Medicine and they always enjoyed lot of respect in the profession and senior colleagues as well.

Summing up the discussion Prof. Shahzad Ali Khan said that HSA has a department of Family Medicine and a department also exists at UHS Lahore. UHS has started training programme while HAS was also training physicians in family medicine. They need to play their role in healthcare. GPs, Family Physicians have a critical role. I myself was impressed with a GP and decided to adopt it as a career. Family Physicians have their own empire, they are doing justice to their job, and they work with dedication, devotion and enjoy highest life expectancy among the healthcare professionals. We need to change our mindset. PSIM has recognized their importance that is why this full session is devoted to Family Medicine. We are currently working on National Health Policy and government is keenly interested to promote family physicians. However, he urged the Family Physicians to have unity among them. They do not trust government, they are not working with government but it remains an important discipline, he remarked.

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