Jan De Maeseneer publishes "Family Medicine and Primary Care at the Crossroads of Societal Change" on the occasion of his academic retirement.

On the 30 June 2017, well known colleague and Family Medicine leader, Prof Jan De Maeseneer reached the age of 65. He finished his work as a family doctor in the Community Health Centre Botermarkt in Ledeberg, and on the 30 September 2017, Ghent University will celebrate his academic retirement.

On this occasion, Jan has written a book, “Family Medicine and Primary Care at the Crossroads of Societal Change”. The last four WONCA World presidents (Chris van Weel, Richard Roberts, Michael Kidd and Amanda Howe), have provided the foreword for this book. Jan answers some questions for the WONCA Editor.

Where did the idea to write a book on Family Medicine come from?

In the past decades, I have had the privilege to be involved in the development of family medicine and primary care at different levels: both locally and internationally; and at the practice, the academic and the policy levels. I felt the need to document what I have seen happen in primary care during the last four decades.

Writing a book, invited me to reflect on the reasons why things happened, or did not happen. Trying to understand the motivation of the choices I and others have made, looking back and in the meantime looking at the future. I hope this book contributes to the broader reflection of what family medicine can mean for society nowadays.

What is the concept of your book?

I used a "mixed" approach: personal stories are intertwined with policy activities and scientific analysis.

Each chapter starts with a "patient story", taken from the practice in the Community Health Centre. Then the different chapters explore the importance of social determinants of health; the need for a paradigm shift from problem-oriented to goal-oriented care; a reflection on why making a diagnosis in family medicine and primary care is such a complex task; a critical analysis of the social accountability of pharmaceutical industry; how to put the principals of quality care into practice; the training of (family) physicians; the organisation of primary health care, and it's relationship with other levels of care; payment systems for primary care; and the global developments of family medicine worldwide.

Each of the chapters ends with a reflection by an "outsider" – people such as Iona Heath, Martin McKee, Akye Essuman, Michael Marmot.

What could be the relevance of this book for WONCA?

I hope that the book may inspire readers to reflect on strategies to engage in change processes for the improvement of primary care and the role that family medicine has to play. There is increasing evidence, that health should have strong primary care as the cornerstone, and that family medicine is the medical discipline of the primary care team.

The book will not be prescriptive, but invites to reflection and action within and outside WONCA.

What is your final message for family medicine and primary care nowadays?

Being a family physician is a wonderful job, but, the societal environment is changing rapidly. Nowadays we are confronted with the "Age of Anger" (Mishra), where violence and fear are dominating human interactions. In this environment, our role as family doctors shifts from responsibility for individuals and families, towards accountability for a defined population; from being reactive, to becoming pro-active, looking at lifestyle and living conditions, social and environmental determinants.

I am convinced that family medicine in the framework of comprehensive primary care, nowadays has an important role to play in contributing to the social cohesion, that our society needs so much.

The Book

"Family Medicine and Primary Care at the Crossroads of Societal Changes"
Jan De Maeseneer

ISBN 9789401444460

LannooCampus Publishers,
Erasme Ruelensvest, 179 (box 101), B-3001 Leuven - Belgium

Available from: www.lannoocampus.com
(also from Amazon)