Opinion Paper

Proposal to set up a College of Family Medicine in East, Central and Southern Africa

Sunanda Ray, Farai D. Madzimbamuto
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 14, No 1 | a3612 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v14i1.3612 | © 2022 Sunanda Ray, Farai D. Madzimbamuto | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 April 2022 | Published: 05 September 2022

About the author(s)

Sunanda Ray, Department of Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana
Farai D. Madzimbamuto, Department of Anaesthetics and Critical Care, Faculty of Medicine, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana


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Abstract

Family Medicine training in Africa is constrained by limited postgraduate educational resources and opportunities. Specialist training programmes in surgery, anaesthetics, internal medicine, paediatrics and others have developed a range of trainers and assessors through colleges across East, Central and Southern Africa (ECSA). Each college has a single curriculum with standardised training and assessment in designated institutions, which run alongside and in collaboration with the Master’s in Medicine programmes in universities. Partnerships between colleges in Britain, Ireland and Canada and national specialist associations have led to joint training-of-trainer courses, e-learning platforms, improved regional coordination, better educational networking and research opportunities through regional conferences and joint publications. We propose the establishment of a regional college for specialist training of family physicians, similar to other specialist colleges in ECSA. Partnerships with family medicine programmes in South Africa, Canada and Australia, with support from international institutions such as the Primary Care and Family Medicine Network for Sub-Saharan Africa (PRIMAFAMED) and the World Organisation of Family Doctors (WONCA Africa), would be essential for its success. Improved health outcomes have been demonstrated with strong primary care systems and related to the number of family physicians in communities. A single regional college would make better use of resources available for training, assessment and accreditation and strengthen international and regional partnerships. Family medicine training in Africa could benefit from the experience of specialist colleges in the ECSA region to accelerate training of a critical mass of family physicians. This will raise the profile of family medicine in Africa and contribute to improved quality of primary care and clinical services in district hospitals.

Keywords

Family medicine training; College of Family Medicine; East Africa; Central Africa; Southern Africa.

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