Primary health care provides the framework for delivering the socially-informed, comprehensive and patient-centred care underlying robust health-care systems and is, therefore, central to achieving universal health coverage. Family physicians are best placed to embody primary health care’s dual focus on community and population health because they are often employed in rural or district hospitals with limited human resources, particularly a lack of specialists. Here we want to illustrate how additional training for family physicians, the key clinicians in primary care, can play a critical role in reducing disparities in access to surgical, obstetric and anaesthesia care in low-and middle-income countries and in rural or remote settings. Examples are given of how training programmes can be developed in low-resource settings to equip family physicians with life-saving surgical skills and of how family physicians in high-income countries can be trained in the surgical skills essential for working overseas in low-income settings. Policy-makers should promote surgical practice among family physicians by supporting family medicine programmes that include additional surgical skills training and by expanding opportunities and incentives for family physicians to serve in rural areas. Moreover, national surgical plans should include a primary health care strategy for surgical care and, globally, family physicians should be considered in discussions of surgical care. Finally, surgeons, anaesthesiologists, obstetricians and family physicians should be encouraged to collaborate in ensuring that all patients, regardless of place of residence, receive safe and timely surgical care.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health