Opinion Paper

Family medicine in Denmark: Are there lessons for Botswana and Africa?

Vincent Setlhare
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 8, No 1 | a1026 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v8i1.1026 | © 2016 Vincent Setlhare | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 September 2015 | Published: 30 March 2016


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Abstract

Family medicine is a new specialty in Botswana and many African countries and its definitionand scope are still evolving. In this region, healthcare is constrained by resource limitation andinefficiencies in resource utilisation. Experiences in countries with good health indicators canhelp inform discussions on the future of family medicine in Africa. Observations made duringa visit to family physicians (FPs) in Denmark showed that the training of FPs, the practice offamily medicine and the role of support staff in a family practice were often different andsometimes unimaginable by African standards. Danish family practices were friendly andenmeshed in an egalitarian and efficient health system, which is supported by an effectiveinformation technology network. There was a lot of task shifting and nurses and clerical staffattended to simple or uncomplicated aspects of patient care whilst FPs attended to morecomplicated patient problems. Higher taxation and higher health expenditure seemed toundergird the effective health system. An egalitarian relationship amongst patients andhealthcare workers (HCW) may help improve patient care in Botswana. Task shifting shouldbe formalised, and all sectors of primary healthcare should have fast and effective informationtechnology systems. HCW training and roles should be revised. Higher health expenditure isnecessary to achieve good health indicators.

Keywords: task shifting, Family Medicine, Family Physician, Denmark, health expenditure, egalitarian


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