The idea of a family physician — the friendly doctor who could recite a list of all the ailments various members of the family suffered from and treated everyone, from the oldest to the youngest — has been fading away.
Now, there is an increasing attempt to get such experts more involved in the health scene in the country.
Speaking on the role of family physicians, Jachin Velavan, coordinator of distance education, CMC Vellore, said, “In the urban scenario, people are sent to specialists even for minor illnesses. These referrals can be minimised if a doctor understands the family and patient history”. She was speaking at a workshop on Family Medicine conducted by the University of Edinburgh along with CMC, Vellore, and the Indian Christian Medical and Dental Association. There is an urgent need to train family physicians in large numbers, she said.
Dr. Velavan said, “The best approach is a blended course with online and contact classes,” adding that around 90 per cent of all medical cases required primary care.
While the Medical Council of India (MCI) has notified a three-year postgraduate course in family medicine, the Academy of Family Physicians of India has urged the MCI to make community medicine mandatory for medicos, said Raman Kumar, founder-president of the Academy of Family Physicians of India.
“A community medicine specialist would focus on reducing hospitalisation and preventive medicine, but many hospitals are opposed to the model since they would lose revenue,” he said.
“The speciality needs to be scaled up to be effective for a country like India,” he added.
Through a Memorandum of Understanding between University of Edinburgh, CMC, Vellore and ICMDA, a new blended masters course in family medicine was introduced.