Dr Tasneem Yehya: Bringing lifelong care to my patients with MAP’s support

In countries like the UK, when someone has a health problem, they will usually first visit their GP who can, if necessary, refer them on to specialists for tests or treatment. The primary healthcare system seeks to promote a patient-centred approach, providing continuous and comprehensive care across the lifetime of a patient and to all members of a family.

This is part of the ‘family medicine’ model of healthcare, which Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is helping to adapt for the Palestinian health system. Developing this specialism in the Palestinian health sector is important to ensuring all people have access to high-quality primary care which is equitable, efficient and affordable. It can also help address the growing burden of chronic diseases in Palestine’s ageing population.

With our partner, the Foundation for Family Medicine in Palestine (FFMP), MAP is supporting An Najah National University (ANNU) in Nablus to teach Palestinian doctors the key skills needed to apply the family medicine model in their work.

We caught up with Dr Tasneem Yehya, a Palestinian doctor from Tulkarem in the West Bank, to hear how the training she received in the family medicine approach is enhancing the care she provides to her patients:

“Throughout my residency in family medicine, I received knowledge and trainings which helped me understand the important role family doctors have in providing lifelong care for their patients. Family doctors can build a relationship with their patients which enables them to monitor and adapt individualised health programmes over time and administer follow-up examinations with our patients,” Dr Yehya explained.

“Before the residency, I feared building relationships with my patients, and I did not know how to share bad news with them. The residency programme didn’t only help me to gain knowledge, but also to develop my personality and self-esteem.”

We are delighted that 11 family medicine residents have passed their specialist exams and graduated the ANNU programme, doubling the number of family medicine doctors in the West Bank. They have already begun applying the new knowledge and skills in their practice, as Dr Yehya explained:

“In my opinion, family doctors are the keystone in every hospital and clinic. Family doctors can manage at least 70% of the referred cases, so we can reduce the number of patients referred to other doctors. Importantly, we can also follow up with our patients in the long run.

“We can dig further to understand the issue that our patients suffer from. I feel like I am a psychologist, dermatologist, cardiologist, geriatrician, paediatrician all in one. Family doctors are trained to diagnose and treat a spectrum of medical issues for patients of all ages. During a shift, I may have to provide a check-up for a healthy newborn baby, and then step into the next appointment to support a diabetic patient with complicated medical issues.

“As most family doctors focus on preventative medicine, I have been able to help lots of diabetic patients to stabilise their sugar levels and build individual treatment plans with them. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing them coming back for their scheduled follow-up examinations.”

MAP would like to congratulate all of the recent graduates of the ANNU programme, and wish them the best of luck in the next stage of their careers as qualified family doctors.

If you would like to support our family medicine programme in Palestine, please consider making a donation today.


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