The first National Family Medicine Conference in Botswana, May 2013

Type Journal Article - African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine
Title The first National Family Medicine Conference in Botswana, May 2013
Volume 6
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Page numbers 1-4
he theme of the conference was 'Family Medicine Training and Career Paths for Family Physicians in Botswana'. This topic was deemed to be appropriate as there is a need for countries to define the role of family physicians and the training requirements for family medicine (FM) in their own contexts.1,2,3,4

In 1995, a study showed that there was a need for a medical school in Botswana and planning for this started in 1998.5 The plans for a new medical school were driven by the high doctor-patient ratios, the small number of local doctors and the fact that the majority of Botswana doctors graduating overseas did not return to practise. The University of Botswana, School of Medicine, started residency programmes in Internal Medicine and Paediatrics in 2010. Family Medicine and other specialties were started in 2011. The residency programme in Family Medicine had its fair share of teething problems, as was also the case in similar programmes in Kenya and Uganda.1,2

The department's problems stemmed mainly from understaffing and being based in three campuses 200 to 800 kilometres apart. Qualified family physicians were not applying to fill the vacant positions and the two main FM campuses did not have enough specialists in the various disciplines to support the FM residency programme. The requirement of enough specialists to support FM residency programmes is highlighted in the African Consensus Statement on Family Medicine.3

The Joint Staff Agreement between the University of Botswana and the Botswana government was supposed to enable non-faculty specialists to dedicate time to teaching residents and undergraduate medical students, but there were problems with its implementation. Training residents under these conditions was a challenge.

In addition, some residents were in their penultimate year of training and their career paths and posts, after completion, were not well defined. There was therefore a need to reconvene stakeholders to share ideas on the role of FM in Botswana, how best to train FM residents and what their career paths would be in the Botswana setting.

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