Featured Doctor

COTTON, Prof Phil

UK/ Rwanda : family doctor

What work do you do now?

Currently Principal of the College of Medicine and Health Sciences in the University of Rwanda (UR). UR was formed from the sevem public higher learning institutions in September 2013. The College is one of six in the University and has 11 campuses around the country. We train almost all of the health care professionals in the country from prosthetists to doctors. Last year we opened the first ever dental school and next year we will begin the first clinical speciality Masters in Nursing. We aim to be one of the most recognisable Universities in Africa.

What other interesting activities that you have been involved in?

I was the founding chair of a fair and ethical trade organisation in Scotland. Every day is packed with interesting activities. Students are my greatest source of inspiration and they have almost certainly led me to the projects and causes that have given me the greatest interest. Once you look into the sea of faces in the lecture room you realise that the talent pool is almost overwhelming - special people doing special things.

What are your interests as a GP and also outside work?

As a GP I worked in one of the poorest electoral wards in Scotland. Hugely influenced by Prof Graham Watt and his Deep End Project*.

I imagine I will return to the same part of Glasgow to work. I also worked with an organisation called Freedom from Torture which helped me to understand others better.

I recently published a book on empathy with my friend Prof Stewart Mercer. He is a great GP academic who articulates perfectly the values that underpin our lives as primary care doctors. In recent years most of my time has been spent in medical education with the wonderful GP educationalist Prof Jill Morrison.

Every few years I return to my love of oil painting. I enjoy cooking and gardening and for several reasons don’t do either in Kigali. I love music from Emeli Sande to Bach - and find listening restorative. I find time to attend Church at least once a week and am keen to get to 'the last thing on Friday' service.

What are you doing to help the development of family medicine in Rwanda?.

Photos: community outreach: Phil (left) and students (right)

We have a postgraduate training program in family medicine and some superb trainees. The department of family and community medicine in the School is led by incredible individuals who have established a program that is very highly evaluated by students. We are increasing the amount of curriculum time in social and community medicine and have two sites for placements - Kabgayi and Rwinkwavu which is supported by Partners in Health.

There is a Minister of State for Primary Care and Public Health and both he and the Honorable Minister are committed to primary health care through an incredible network of health centres.

* Deep End is a collective of GPs working in the poorest electoral wards in Scotland and building the evidence and experience base to change policy for fair and just delivery of primary care to some of the most challenged general practices.