Remembering Barbara Starfield: Articles & Messages

Planetary Health Care (PLHC) and Barbara Starfield's  Legacy | Enrique Falceto De Barros & Mayara Floss

Starfield's legacy is high-valued by primary care providers (PCPs). Her scholarship advanced the recognition of the essential work we do. Now, building on her steps, there is an urgent need to recognise the crucial role we already play to keep people healthy on a healthy the planet as evidence suggests that Primary Care based Healthcare systems are more effective, optimising health with a lower ecological footprint. 

Mounting evidence suggests PCPs can play an even stronger role with simple evidence-based advice such as reducing red meat, choosing active transportation, avoiding air pollution - with significant co-benefits for patients and the planet. When appropriate, I have done this at my clinic, and I like to call it one minute for the planet - when in fact, it may take only ten seconds.

Please see our comment on Planetary Health and Barbara Starfield's Legacy in the BMJ Global Health Blog on June 10th.

Prof Shabir Moosa, President, WONCA, Africa Region, writes: 

“I have always regretted not getting involved earlier in WONCA to be able to meet Barbara Starfield. I understand that she was always at key WONCA meetings and supporting the efforts of family doctors. Her ability to produce strong evidence for the value of family physicians has yet to be emulated. Her definition of good quality primary care as first contact care that is comprehensive, continuous and coordinated remains in strong use, even in Africa. It is ten years since our loss of this amazing person, and we still miss her.”

Dr Shlomo Vinker, President, WONCA Europe, writes:

"Prof. Barbara Starfield wrote: "This evidence shows that primary care helps prevent illness and death, regardless of whether the care is characterized by supply of primary care physicians, a relationship with a source of primary care, or the receipt of important features of primary care. The evidence also shows that primary care (in contrast to specialty care) is associated with a more equitable distribution of health in populations, a finding that holds in both cross-national and within-national studies." 

Prof. Starfield gave us many years ago the scientific evidence that health care systems with strong primary care and family medicine are doing better. Time has come to repeat this important scientific work and to gather new and updated evidence, as we all believe that it is still true today."

Dr Pratyush Kumar, WONCA Executive Member-at-Large, Chair - Wonca Rural South Asia, writes: 

At a time when doctors, health workers and other frontline workers are being called "warriors" who are battling the second wave of the Covid19 pandemic, one cannot stop thinking about the work Barbara has done.

She avidly advocated towards strengthening primary health care, equitable distribution of resources, such as adequate health workforce, infrastructure and vaccination, accessible even in the remote and rural areas. 

Come to think of it: if every government executed what she advised, we would have been much better prepared to fight this pandemic. She was a woman ahead of her times and has laid a path for all to follow.


Dr Ana Nunes Barata, Young Doctor Representative, writes: 

Barbara Starfield has been an inspiration to all healthcare professionals, namely to the ones who have chosen to follow the path of Primary Care. 

As young doctor she encourages us with her legacy - the importance of seeking the best in us. Her passion, innovative spirit and scientific work supports the importance of Primary Care as a pillar for Universal Health Care. 

Thank you forever for your work.

Dr Raman Kumar, President WONCA South Asia

I didn't have the opportunity to meet Barbara Starfield in person, but I am sure all of us who are working in the area of primary care are inspired by her monumental contribution to bringing evidence and credibility to the domain of family medicine and primary care. Her work is the foundation on which primary care research and academics stand and continue to grow. 


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