Short Report – Special Collection: African Health Systems

The role played by family physicians in providing health services for the sheltered homeless populations during COVID-19 lockdown in the Tshwane district

Edith N. Madela-Mntla, Wayne Renkin, Johannes F. Hugo, Paul S. Germishuys
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 13, No 1 | a3060 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v13i1.3060 | © 2021 Edith Nonhlanhla Madela-Mntla, Wayne Renkin, Johannes Frederika Hugo, Paul Stefanus Germishuys | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 May 2021 | Published: 28 October 2021

About the author(s)

Edith N. Madela-Mntla, COPC Research Unit, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Wayne Renkin, COPC Research Unit, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Johannes F. Hugo, COPC Research Unit, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Paul S. Germishuys, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

This short report describes the role that family physicians (FPs) (and family medicine registrars) played to provide care for the homeless people in shelters (both temporary and permanent) during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) lockdown in the City of Tshwane, South Africa. The lockdown resulted in the establishment of a large number of temporary shelters. The FPs took on the task to provide comprehensive and coordinated primary care, whilst extending their activities in terms of data management, quality improvement, capacity building and research. The FPs worked in teams with other healthcare providers and contributed a unique set of skills to the process. This report demonstrates the value of responding quickly and appropriately through communication, cooperation and innovation. It also demonstrates the large number of areas in which FPs can make a difference when engaged appropriately, with the necessary support and collaboration, thus making a positive impact in the already overburdened health services.

Keywords

family physicians; homeless population; homeless shelter; research report; health services; COVID-19; lockdown; Tshwane District

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