Featured Doctor

MOOSA, Dr Shabir

WONCA Africa secretary (South Africa)

Dr Shabir Moosa, a family physician in Johannesburg, South Africa and the newly-elected Secretary of WONCA Africa, has become familiar to many in WONCA in a short time with his avid communications. However there are many things that people DON’T know about him.

His background and work history

Born in Durban, South Africa, he studied at the University of Natal Medical School. This medical school was a hotbed of anti-apartheid activism and Shabir spent a bit time in the 1980s as a student in jail. He started practicing in 1990 as a general practitioner (GP) in Kokstad, a small rural town near poverty-stricken Transkei, and rose rapidly through the ranks of the African National Congress (ANC). He turned down a seat in the first post-apartheid parliament in South Africa in 1994 and continued as a GP in Kokstad. He was later involved in the development of district health services in the area and served as councillor in Kokstad and chair of the local independent practitioners association. He started his postgraduate studies in family medicine in 1998, from his practice and based on the distance-teaching module operative at the time.

Photo: Seen at WONCA Prague world conference 2013 - Shabir Moosa (left) with Ilkka Kunnamo, chair of the WONCA Working Party on Informatics

Dr Moosa moved to Johannesburg in 2004 to take up a post at the Department of Family Medicine, University of Witswatersrand (Wits). Prof Bruce Sparks, former President of WONCA was head of the department at the time. Dr Moosa’s task was to develop full-time postgraduate training at Wits – a difficult one considering the poor relationship the Gauteng Department of Health had with Wits Family Medicine and that there were no formal positions for family physicians in the public health service. A plan was in place by end-2005 with the Gauteng Department of Health to formally establish family physicians as clinical heads of doctors in the district health services.

There was rapid expansion of the Wits-Gauteng Department of Family Medicine from 3 people in 2005 to over 50 currently across four of the five districts in Gauteng. The populations of Gauteng, the province, and Johannesburg, a district were 11m and 4m, respectively in 2011. Dr Moosa worked as coordinator in Gauteng and Johannesburg from 2004 to 2011. Dr Moosa also managed to complete an MBA during that period.

Other professional activities

He has been Wits lead researcher in the HURAPRIM research (an EU-FP7-funded collaboration on Human Resources in Africa Primary Care led by Prof Jan de Maeseneer of Ghent University) since 2011 and deeply involved in development and research of community-oriented primary care (COPC) efforts in Johannesburg. He is a member of WONCA International Classification Committee (WICC) and on the Nominations Committee of WICC. He is on the editorial boards of British Journal of General Practice and African Journal of Primary Health Care and Family Medicine. He has been involved in key family medicine development and education efforts in South Africa and Africa since 2005. Dr Moosa was also involved in the ministerial task team setting up the clinical associate (or physician assistant) programme in South Africa.

He is a senior clinical lecturer and member of the academic department in Wits. He is involved in undergraduate and postgraduate training (especially on health service management). He has also been involved in developing undergraduate primary care rotations and general community education at Wits. He has had several publications, even starting as a postgraduate student. His bent has been to health system issues: especially the definition of family medicine in Africa, universal coverage and human resource. He has presented at WONCA World Conferences in 2004 and 2013. All his publications are available at his website www.drmoosa.co.za. He is actively practicing as a family physicianin Johannesburg in Soweto and developing a community practice in the community of Chiawelo as a model for the national health insurance emerging in South Africa. It’s easy to follow what he is doing.

Social media enthusiast

Dr Moosa is skilled at working with social media and technology and has set up a WONCA Africa website www.WONCAAfrica.org which is regularly updated with useful information. He also provides a monthly WONCA Communication by email with useful insights and links to more. He is active on social media for his own website updates but has also set up and has WONCA Africa active in a Twitter feed (for quick stuff), a Linked-in Group (for serious stuff) and a Facebook page (for light stuff). Have a look at these and join in the great stuff happening in Africa. He has also set up a streaming broadcast of the weekly continuing professional development from Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg, which you can view via the link ‘WONCA Africa TV’ at the website.

On a more personal note

Shabir has been married to Ayesha since 1987 and they have a 23-year-old daughter, Zah’ra who is working as a trainee chartered accountant. Contact Shabir in Johannesburg, South Africa at [email protected] or +27824466825

photo: Zah'ra at her graduation with Shabir and Ayesha