World Family Doctor Day: Role of Family Physician in your health and well being

HealthWorld Family Doctor Day: Role of Family Physician in your health and...

By Dr Attia Anwar

World Family Doctor Day is celebrated on 19th May each year. This is to honor the efforts of family doctors in providing holistic healthcare and creating healthier communities worldwide.

   

world family doctor day 2024

The theme of this year’s World Family Doctor Day was “Healthy Planet — Healthy People”. It is to emphasize the impact of climate change on the health of people. As a part of holistic care, if a doctor wants to keep people healthy, they have to consider the impact of the environment on the production of diseases. We witness diseases due to changes in the environment every day. Whether it is asthma due to pollution or some vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria, they affect family physician and their patients.

Family physician is an advocate for your health who knows you, and all your health problems

This article is to emphasize the importance of a family physician in your life. When you get sick due to any reason your first instinct is to do some self-medication or some home remedy. If it does not work you go to a doctor, who may be in a hospital or running his own private clinic. What happens next is, you go there, you have to wait for some time or you may not. Then you see a doctor. You usually encounter a different doctor every time you go. He asks you some questions about your illness and gives you treatment. You get better on your own or with treatment, but there is no proper talk about your health. Even if the doctor is very competent and good in communication he/she is unable to touch all aspects of your wellbeing. Since you are sick therefore you want to get better and don’t want lengthy discussions also. So you wait to go to a doctor again when you have some problem and that cycle is repeated. You have a permanent medical record, in the hands of a good physician that can solve the problem partially, but not completely. It is irrespective of whether a record is your property or some electronic medical record system. Imagine another system in which you have hired a particular doctor for you and your family like you hire a lawyer for your firm.

A family physician is an advocate for your health who knows you, and all your health problems. The family physician knows about the diseases that run in your family.  What are social and psychological issues? He has all your medical records. He/she may be a doctor of your father and your son also. You can go to him when you are sick, and sometimes when you are not sick and want some health advice. You can call him on the phone for minor problems and he can tell you whether a visit is required or not. He or she should fulfill all your health needs and maintain your medical records. That will result in better understanding and continuity of care.

So if you have your family physician he/she will know you. There will be continuity of care and your doctor earns your well-being, not your disease

Some people go to specialists for every problem. They choose specialists according to their understanding of the problem they prefer to go to an orthopedic surgeon if they have a problem in the knee. But that joint pain may be due to a problem in some other body system. So the specialist who is experienced in a joint will overlook your other systems. The human body works in coordination. It requires holistic care. How is it possible in Pakistan? It can be done either by good health insurance companies or people could hire their own doctors and pay them on a monthly or annual basis.

Family physicians who are trained for this purpose should be responsible for the health needs of their patients. It should also include integration and monitoring of specialized health services if required.  Why is this not happening now, people do not trust General Practitioners  (GPs) in Pakistan. It was thought that they were not trained enough to look after the patients because their competency level was considered to be low. But recently proper training of family physicians has been started. There are postgraduate family physicians with degrees and enough experience. They know all systems of the body and they are specialist generalist.

So if you have your family physician he/she will know you. There will be continuity of care and your doctor earns your well-being, not your disease. Even if you or your family physician leave each other after some time, due to relocation of you or your doctor, keep in touch because of your medical history at his/her tips. He/she will take pride in how many healthy people he has and in how many patients he/she sees every day. He will put people off medicine rather than on medicine.

This is going to bring a change in the way, doctors and patients see the medical profession today. Think about the amount of money doctors are getting for the sickness of people. I have seen a few doctors, giving unnecessary treatment to patients which prolongs illness and deteriorates physical and mental health. In conclusion, if a system of having every family physician is established, that family physician will be held accountable for the health of those people. The family physician will provide holistic care, preventive care, and health education to all the people enrolled with him/her. Family physicians will suggest lifestyle modifications which are sometimes more important than a pill. It can be done through the government, insurance companies, or individuals. If this happens there will be huge benefits for the people and health care system. People will be healthier as they will opt for a healthy lifestyle. Patients who are sick and have diseases will get better care. This will lead to a reduction in the burden of disease both physically, mentally, and financially.

 

The author Dr. Attia Anwar is a consultant family physician with a postgraduate degree from the Royal College of GP UK. She is a strong advocate of health and well-being and wants patient participation in decision-making regarding health.The author Dr. Attia Anwar is a consultant family physician with a postgraduate degree from the Royal College of GP UK. She is a strong advocate of health and well-being and wants patient participation in decision-making regarding health.

 

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