By Oluwafunke Ishola
A Consultant Family Physician, Dr Oludaisi Oduniyi, says comprehensive, compassionate, and people-centred care operated by family doctors is critical to achieving universal health coverage in Nigeria.
Oduniyi, who works at the Family Medicine Department, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, said this on Saturday in Lagos.
He spoke during the celebration of the World Family Doctor Day organised by Lagos Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria (SOFPON).
The celebration was themed: “Building the Future with Family Doctors.”
World Family Doctor Day, celebrated annually on May 19, was first declared by the World Organisation of Family Doctors (WONCA) in 2010.
The day was to highlight the role and contribution of family doctors and primary care teams in healthcare systems around the world.
Oduniyi said that the burden of diseases had shifted direction to integrated, comprehensive and people-centred primary care.
According to him, family doctors being the first point of contact of a patient with the healthcare system were experts in preventive, diagnosing and treating the whole person.
He said that patients desire affordable and accessible healthcare that was personalised to suit their peculiar health challenges, adding that family doctors manage over 90 per cent of health challenges.
Oduniyi said that family physicians were committed to persons rather than diseases, saying these allowed them to build trust and bond with patients.
“We share the same habitat with patients, so we know the peculiarity of the issues patients are facing.
“We are trained to manage patient’s resources, consider their socio-economic resources and instead of telling them to do 10 laboratory tests, we can narrow it to two and take a diagnosis from there,” he said.
Oduniyi said that the country needs more family physicians to achieve universal health coverage.
“For instance, some communities may not have specialists; if a patient has heart challenges, a competent family physician should be able to manage common heart disease conditions, even though not a cardiologist,” he said.
Also, Dr Blessing Chukwukelu, Chairman, Lagos SOFPON, said that family doctors were distinguished for their commitment to patients, health care provision and their communities.
According to her, the four pillars of World Family Doctor’s Day 2021 are building the future with family doctors and primary care teams; and building the future with family doctors and patients.
She added that other pillars were building the future with family doctors and new technologies and building the future with family doctors and you.
Chukwukelu said that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, new technologies had emerged as fundamental tools for healthcare professionals to continue their mission.
She said that family physicians must become advocates for an inclusive, equitable, accessible and affordable health system.
Chukwukelu added that family medicine would continue to fight for individuals and communities that the healthcare system had ignored. (NAN)