Policy bite from Amanda Howe - invest in primary care

Professor Amanda Howe, our President–Elect aims to help with policy discussion and messages. This month's Policy Bite is inspired by strong and clear messages from our East Mediterranean region colleagues. We are also inviting you to send us similar material - an important piece of policy from your own organisation or setting that relates to family medicine developments and that might be helpful to others. Please send a summary, a link, and make it short - it's not Twitter, we shall allow up to 500 words. email to [email protected]

Or join the online discussion

Different regions, one message – and a need to get that message across!

January saw both the WONCA World executive meet in London, and attendance at the WHO Executive Board in Geneva by the President, the President-Elect, and the WHO liaison Member at large (Luisa Pettigrew). These are reported elsewhere, but the messages we discussed were consistent –focusing on “the need to recognize the role of family doctors as a cornerstone in the delivery high quality Primary Care, the need to invest in training family doctors in community settings at undergraduate and postgraduate level, the need to invest in training of other primary care workers in order to be able to provide better health services, and the need to invest in well-resourced Primary Health Care Centres in the community that allow primary care teams to deliver high quality care.”

Sound familiar? – these exact words were in the report of Dr Mohammed Tarawneh, Wonca East Mediterranean Region (EMR) President, from the WHO regional visit in Oman in October 2013; yet they describe our main messages at WHO in Geneva. Report available

And these messages are not only being given consistently in meetings and correspondence: colleagues are also getting them across to the outside world, via journal articles.

Dr Waris Qidwai (pictured), Chair of the WONCA Working Party on Research, and also in EMR, writes in a recent editorial: “A strong emphasis on health maintenance and disease prevention should be the backbone of any comprehensive approach to deal with curtailment of health care budget and costs. This will require a strong focus on strengthening primary health care and its function in the overall health care delivery. This change in focus will have to be part of an overall change in health care delivery system that ensures its proper functioning at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.i

He has also, with other EMR researchers, published on a further core principle – person centred care – showing that there is an important learning curve in creating patient and physician valuing of this aspect of family medicineii.

The main aim of the policy bites are to help people with articulating the importance of our discipline. Thanks to EMR colleagues for this month’s material! We can all talk the talk if we know what we need to say.

i Qidwai W, Nanji K, Khoja T, Rawaf S, Al Kurashi N, Alnasir F, et al. Are we ready for a person-centered care model for patient-physician consultation? A survey from family physicians and their patients of East Mediterranean Region. European Journal for Person Centered Healthcare 2013; 1(2):394-404.

ii Qidwai W. Increasing Health Care Costs and its Adverse Impact on Healthcare and Health: A Call for Action. JLUMHS 2013;12(2):68-69.