Advocating for family medicine

At last year’s National Family Practitioners Conference one of the workshops looked at future scenarios for family medicine in South Africa ( The workshop concluded that the Academy should “take a more active role in advocating and communicating for the discipline in South Africa”.

In February the national council met to develop such an advocacy plan. The council identified a number of key stakeholders such as family physicians and other generalists, department of health, private sector medical aids and funders, professional and regulatory bodies, family physicians and universities. For each of these stakeholders we considered the purpose of engagement, the key messages, best medium and messenger, timing and resources required.

Over the next few months you should see some of the activity that was planned at this workshop.

From left to right: Andrew Ross, Biano Hobson, Frederick Mayanja, Sam Agbo, Bob Mash, Sruthi Mohan, Jenny Nash, Wim Beukes, Andre Marais and Lushiku Nkombua. 

On May 19th we celebrated World Family Doctor Day and published an opinion editorial in The Conversation to explain how family physicians are improving health care in South Africa’s communities (

In the next South African Family Practice Journal you should find an editorial from Prof Bob Mash on family medicine and advertising for the national conference and membership.

Click HERE for a very brief survey asking you for feedback on what the Academy is doing and how we can serve our membership even better. Please take two minutes to complete this.

We also plan a policy brief for the department of health and a briefing document for the Health Professions Council on accreditation of postgraduate family medicine training.

21st National Family Practitioners Congress,

River Club, Cape Town | 24 – 26 August 2018

Have you registered yet for the 21st National Family Practitioners Congress 2018 that will take place 24-26 August 2018 at the River Club in Cape Town? The annual conference is a wonderful opportunity to interact with Family Medicine colleagues from all over South Africa, to get updates on different topics and participate in hands-on workshops.

The theme for this year’s conference is “Family Medicine and the Circle of Life”. There will be a focus on the start of life, or First Thousand Days (from conception to the second birthday) as well as the end of life, with Geriatric and Palliative care topics. There will be Ethics presentations on medical error, as well as the role of palliative care in public health. The workshop topics have been carefully selected to provide practical skills for conditions commonly encountered in primary care. Highlights include approach to a forgetful patient, Paediatric emergencies, Common sports injuries, Surgical Skills and an Orthopaedic workshop where you can get your hands dirty with Plaster of Paris.

There will be workshops on Family medicine topics such as read more…

Training of Clinical Trainers Report
4-9 March 2018 WITS University Johannesburg

Training of Clinical Trainers


This Training of Clinical Trainers (TCT) course is an evolution of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) ‘Introduction to Training the Trainers’ Course. With grant money the RCGP and Stellenbosch University (SU) have adapted the course to be fit for South Africa and presented it the first time in 2014 in Cape Town. The TCT course has been designed to be adaptive and learner centred, to expose clinical supervisors and lead educators to the essential skills and experiences needed to become more competent and confident medical educators.

Family Medicine training moved from traditional training hospitals to decentralized sites in the community where the Family Physician can make a difference.  With this move, the focus of training also changed more to clinical training in the workplace. The TCT course is an excellent way to equip the trainers/supervisors of Family Medicine Registrars (but also many other health care workers, including medical students, community service doctors, nursing personnel and allied health workers) to do work place based training and assessment in decentralised sites.

The course

There are two parts to the course namely the training of clinical supervisors and the training of South African course facilitators. This took place under the guidance of Dr Jill Edwards and Dr Steve Mowle, both well renowned and respected GP trainers of the RCGP.  Some of the areas addressed read more…

In memory of Prof Sam Ferhsen: a personal tribute

My first memory of Sam Fehrsen was as a first-year medical student while on a Christian student outreach to Rietvlei hospital in the (then) Transkei where Sam worked. We spent two weeks at the hospital and Dutch reformed mission. We constructed a wall in a donga just next to the hospital. The idea was to have a dam stocked with fish so that the local community could use it as a source of protein. On the final day we had a ceremony to officially open the dam all geared up in swimming costumes and gear in the middle of winter. Sadly a couple of months later Sam informed us that with the first rain the dam wall was washed away.

Inspired by Sam and the other doctors at the hospital, I decided to become a rural doctor and to specifically work at Rietvlei hospital on qualifying. At the end of my second year I spent another three weeks at Rietvlei being hosted by Sam and his wife Jenneke. One of my lasting memories of that visit was joining Sam on a mobile clinic vehicle, a big lorry equipped with the necessary medications and immunisations. We would stop at different places in the community to run a clinic for the local people. Sam later moved from Rietvlei to nearby Mount Ayliff hospital and in 1975 after 10 years in rural hospitals, moved to Pretoria where he established the first Family Medicine Department at Medunsa in the late 70s.

I kept contact with Sam through the yearly Medical Christian Fellowship (MCF) conferences and in 1983 registered for a post graduate Family Medicine degree at Medunsa with Sam at the helm. Read more…

World Organization of Family Doctors

The Academy is the official representative organisation for South Africa in the World Organisation of Family Doctors (WONCA).

In September this year we mark the 40th anniversary of the Declaration of Alma Ata(, which first articulated a broad and radical vision for primary health care. This declaration made health for all the target and saw primary health care as “the key to attaining this target as part of development in the spirit of social justice”.

Ten years ago the World Health Organization published their World Health Report “Primary health care: Now more than ever” ( which re-affirmed the central importance of primary health care to national health systems. The report recommended four key reforms.

Later this year governments will meet again in Astana, Kazakhstan, to agree a new declaration and a programme of work. Through WONCA and our own government we have an opportunity to again prioritise primary health care.

In October this year WONCA will also be organising a global conference in Seoul, South Korea ( with the theme “Primary care in the future: professional excellence”. We know that some members of the Academy will attend, participate in this global event and bring us feedback.

Earn all your CEU’s free of charge each year

All paid up SAAFP members have access to the print CPD activities in the South African Family Practice journal as well as it’s online CPD courses. With the collaboration of AOSIS eCPD all SAAFP members also have free, unlimited access to eCPD’s Signature courses, giving our members the ability to earn all the required clinical and ethics CEU’s each year at no additional cost. Members are automatically registered on the site when they become a member.  Read here for more information on how to navigate the website.

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