A firm foundation: Update on MAP’s family medicine programme in the West Bank

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is supporting the development of family medicine in the West Bank. This new approach to primary care can help ensure Palestinian families have access to continuous, comprehensive and patient-centred care throughout their lifetimes, and help to manage the growing burden of chronic diseases among an ageing population.

Dr Andy Ferguson, Director of Programmes in the UK for MAP, reports on the progress of this ambitious new programme after a recent visit to the West Bank:

 "This month’s MAP and FIDFMP (the Foundation for the International Development of Family Medicine in Palestine) mission to the West Bank was hugely successful and productive.

"Distinguished UK-based family medicine academics and educators travelled to the West Bank on 10 April to provide technical support to the family medicine project. We ran two workshops with the sterling support of Lina Qutob, MAP's Senior Programme Officer in the West Bank,
 and Mira al Mukarker, MAP’s Director of Programmes in the West Bank, in the MAP office in Ramallah, and our colleagues in the Faculty of Family Medicine at an Najah National University (ANNU), Nablus, who run the specialist training programme for family medicine in the West Bank.

"Our first workshop focused on developing skills for the clinical and academic supervision of family medicine trainees. It was attended by senior doctors from the Ministry of Health (MoH) and UNRWA and current trainees. The second workshop concentrated on improving the assessment and examination process for all specialty training programmes (including family medicine) and was attended by the senior examiners from the Palestine Medical Council. With workshops such as these, MAP is successfully improving the family medicine training programme and developing a transitional training programme for non-specialist doctors and other health professionals working within Primary Health Care Centres in the West Bank.

"We had a high-level meeting to review the progress of the MAP-FIDFMP family medicine development programme. This was chaired by the Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Asad Ramlawi, and attended by senior representatives from the MoH, UNRWA, World Health Organization (WHO), Italian Cooperation and ANNU. They provided updates which painted a very clear picture of a gathering momentum and unified approach to further supporting this vital initiative. This will contribute significantly to the regional goal of Universal Health Coverage – defined by the WHO as “all people [having] access to needed promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that people do not suffer financial hardship when paying for these services.”

"The week culminated in the excellent inaugural scientific meeting of PAFM (Palestinian Association of Family Medicine). It was attended by more than 150 delegates from the MoH, UNRWA and WHO, Italian Cooperation and ANNU, with representatives from throughout the West Bank and a number of distinguished family medicine specialists from the rest of the world. There was a real “coming of age” feeling, endorsed by everyone present. Family medicine now has a firm foundation in the West Bank, and a clear mandate for growth." 

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