Donald Li on the Coronavirus : first in, last out


With the increasing concern of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Dr Donald Li, WONCA president, has written a message regarding the important role of family doctors and primary healthcare in Disaster / Emergency preparedness and response.

“First in, Last out” - The Role of Family Doctors in the Fight Against Novel Coronavirus

1. A strong and effective health care system is vital to protecting people’s health from risks and handling emergencies.

2. We need to depart from traditional hospital-centered concept; emphasize more on the functions of primary care teams in the community including early diseases detection and public education; acknowledge the pivotal role of community-based practitioners who are competent, professional and responsible. Family doctors are often the first contacts of patients and thus are “gatekeepers” in the fight against outbreaks.

3. We therefore need to train family doctors across the spectrum of prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.

4. Family doctors have the “first in, last out” role. They always stand in the forefront, as well they are also the ones who manage the aftermath of contingencies. Outbreaks would bring long-lasting consequences to the both physical and psychological health of a community, from one generation to another. Successive generations of family doctors continue to provide care and treatment.

5. We should ensure family doctors and other primary health care professionals are central to health emergency risk management programmes at both local and national level, and to participate in assessments, planning and actions

6. Family doctors are not immune from the risks around them. They can, however, help reduce risks by sharing information and educating their patients.