World Family Doctor Day (WFDD) was first declared by the World Organisation of Family Doctors (WONCA) in 2010 and it has become a day to highlight the role and contribution of family doctors and primary care teams in healthcare systems around the world. The theme of this year’s World Family Doctor Day, “Building the future with family doctors”. In the Cape Town metropole as well as in the rural districts of the Western Cape (especially the Saldanha Bay sub-district as well as Garden Route district), family doctors and postgraduate students affiliated with the Division of Family Medicine of the University of Cape Town are exerting their leadership abilities across all their roles. Family doctors’ ability to influence their context is reliant on functional clinical teams to enable interdisciplinary collaboration. Family doctors, including those focusing on palliative care, help ensure that patients’ healthcare needs are coordinated across levels of care in the health system, to ensure appropriate and efficient use of resources.
At the University of Cape Town, the Division of Family Medicine is involved in multidisciplinary community-based teaching and learning with a strong focus on primary care research. Several of the 2020 research outputs relate to the COVID-19 pandemic response. One of our colleagues, A/Prof Mosedi Namane, has been selected as a Lancet commissioner on Primary Care Osteoarthritis from 2020 to 2022. More high-quality research is needed to help advocate for the contribution of family medicine and primary care, including palliative care.
Our Division’s relationship-based teaching strategy coupled with a socially relevant research agenda aims to ensure a closer alignment with the health priorities of our communities. The presence of generalist primary care faculty in core teaching has been shown to influence career choices of medical students and young doctors, and enhance the status of generalism. As we celebrate World Family Doctor Day, let us continue with our efforts to build the scholarly basis of our discipline, by investing in the relationships with our patients, students, colleagues, teams and communities.