MAP’s family medicine Transitional Training Program takes off in the West Bank

Family medicine services – in the UK provided through your GP – seek to provide a primary point of medical contact in a health system for all people of all ages. This person-centred approach deals with all aspects of health problems – physical, psychological, social and cultural – and allows for efficient use of health resources by co-ordinating care with other specialties and the management of both acute and chronic health diseases.

In the occupied Palestinian territory, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is working to develop the family medicine capacity – both by developing the skills and knowledge of individual health workers such as doctors and nurses, and by helping establish family practice within the wider healthcare system. This work is being done in partnership with the Foundation for International Development of Family Medicine in Palestine (FIDFMP) and An-Najah National University, and two major providers of primary care in the West Bank, the Ministry of Health (MoH) and UNRWA.

One strand of this ambitious programme of work is the creation of a new residency training programme to teach Palestinian doctors the speciality of family medicine, hosted at An-Najah University in Nablus. To date there are 22 graduates of this programme, with 13 now in training and five new recruits each year – all supported by MAP.

In parallel with this, MAP and partners are delivering an online ‘transitional training programme’ to increase the knowledge and skills of the estimated 800 GPs and 2,000 nurses (as well as pharmacists and laboratory/radiology technicians) working in primary care that do not currently have any specialist training in family practice.

In July, MAP and FIDFMP were able to pilot this transitional training programme, with 15 primary healthcare workers from UNRWA and 18 from the MoH participating across four centres: Beer Nabala MoH Centre, Thahriyeh MoH Centre, the Jerusalem Area Office UNRWA Centre and the Tulkarem UNRWA Centre. The training programme has been designed from the ground-up to be engaging, interactive, case-based and culturally appropriate.

The multidisciplinary settings within these centres has proved an excellent testing ground for this programme before the national roll-out, allowing us to discover potential barriers to accessibility, and assess the feasibility of such an online programme to contribute meaningfully to the continuing professional development of primary health care staff.

MAP and FIDFMP would like to thank the Ministry of Health and UNRWA for all their help in facilitating the training sessions for their staff.  Dr. Nancy Abu Falah from MoH told MAP: “These sessions are excellent as they continue to develop the skills of our Family Medicine staff”.

Special thanks to the FIDFMP team: Paul Wallace (FIDFMP, Chief Executive Officer and Professor Emeritus of Primary Health Care), Lucy Kynge (FIDFMP, Communications) and Shameq Sayeed (FIDFMP, General Practitioner) for forming the faculty for the programme and for providing such a great course.

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