What Constitutes The Domain of Family Medicine in West Africa

  • AV Inem Chief Examiner- Faculty of Family Medicine,West African College of Physicians, 6 Taylor Drive, Yaba
  • OO Ayankogbe Instituteof Child Health And Primary Care, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, PMB 12003, Surulere, Lagos
  • M Obazee National Postgraduate Medical College, Km 26 Lagos Badagry Express Way, Ijanikin, Lagos
  • MM Ladipo General Outpatient Department, University College Hospital Ibadan, Oyo State
  • NE Udonwa Faculty of Family Medicine, Nigerian Chapter, West African College of Physicians, 6 Taylor Drive Yaba,
  • Kofo Odusote Director of Medical Services, Medical Centre, University of Lagos, Akoka, Nigeria
Keywords: Family Medicine, Family Physician, General Practice, Medical education


Medical education at the undergraduate level is the primordial stem in which all specialist courses derive legitimacy. There has been the assumption that the basic medical degree trains all graduates as general practitioners. This erroneous belief has been perpetuated such that many have come to view the postgraduate training in General Medical Practice as a mini surgical, medicine, pediatrics Obstetrics and gynecology exposure.

With the advent of a postgraduate program, in General Medical Practice (GMP) the faculty is changing its outlook so as to differentiate Fellows from other graduates of medicine who are classed as General Practitioners (GPs). The postgraduate trained general practitioner (GP) wants to be known and addressed as a Family Physician.

In the same way that other medical specialties gives the tool for the management of individual patients, family medicine which is within the rubric of Community Oriented Clinical Care gives the practitioners the tool to manage health problem within the family.

The curriculum is being changed to reflect this new phase but the training appears to be doggedly rooted in individual care of the general practice genre

The objective of this paper is to educate both colleagues and the general public on what it takes to be a Family Physician

Using a convenient sample of key informants who were faculty officers in the National postgraduate medical college of Nigeria and the West African college of physicians faculty of General medical practice /family practice who sourced information from documents and the internet this paper explores the extent to which Family Doctors are being trained to be relevant in the West African subregion.

The domain of family medicine in West Africa is now recognized to involve family care dynamics; primary medical care (especially home based care), Primary health care and Facility based care either in clinics or in secondary/tertiary care hospitals

KeyWords ; Family Medicine, Family Physician, General Practice, Medical education

Nig. Medical Practitioner Vol. 45(3) 2004: 33-37

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eISSN: 0189-0964