HISTORY OF THE FACULTY OF FAMILY MEDICINE - WEST AFRICAN COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS
- West African College of Physicians (WACP) was ushered into existence on 13th December, 1972 as part of the West African Postgraduate Medical College (WAPMC). Together with the sister College - West African College of Surgeons (WACS), it formed an organ of the West African Health Organisation (WAHO).
- WACP was formally inaugurated on Saturday 23rd October, 1976 in Lagos with 5 Faculties.
- When the constitution of the WAPMC was drafted, Dr Nicholas de Heer, a Community Health Physician moved for the inclusion of the Faculty of General Medical Practice into the constitution.
- To buttress the need for WACP to have a Faculty of General Medical Practice (GMP), Dr S. Dodu, a Ghanian Internist who delivered the Inaugural Lecture on 23rd October, 1976 highlighted a comment credited to Sir Heneage Oglivie that “In many countries the rapid growth of specialization (sometimes arrogantly referred to as super-specialization) has created an imbalance of the manpower mix at the postgraduate level. As a result patients are now clamouring for a Primary Care Specialist who is scientifically competent and at the same time humanely concerned about the total needs of the patient as a whole person”
- At the WACP Annual AGSM in Monrovia, Liberia in November, 1979, Dr (Mrs) Pobee of Ghana and late Dr C. A. Pearson who had done a lot of work in establishing the Faculty of General Medical Practice, National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN) were included in an adhoc subcommittee on GMP training.
- In 1985, Dr Pearson wrote to the Secretary of Nigeria Chapter of WACP urging the setting up of a Faculty of GMP to organise and supervise the training of GMP specialists in the West African region.
- The Faculty of GMP was inaugurated in the November 1986 AGSM in Monrovia, Liberia with the following number of Foundation Fellows: 78 in Nigeria; 20 in Ghana; 11 in Liberia; 8 in Sierra Leone and 3 in The Gambia.
- In 1987 Dr Henry Adewoye, the Secretary of WACP invited Dr A. O. Sangowawa who was Director of Training, Faculty of GMP, NPMCN to organise a Faculty of General Medical Practice. He was mandated to draw up a curriculum thereby laying the foundation for spreading the message of training General Practitioners to becoming Family Physicians in the West African region. This invitation letter Ref number WACP/C/1 of 5th October, 1987 from Dr Adewoye to Dr Sangowawa is hereby included - see Appendix 1
- Excerpts from Dr Adewoye’s letter are hereby quoted verbatim: “You have already received a letter of congratulations on your admission into the West African College of Physicians. As you know the twelfth Annual General and Scientific Meeting of the West African College of Physicians will hold in Lagos. The Faculty of GMP of the College is meeting for the first time on Monday 16th November at 9.00am at the Federal Palace Hotel ( actual venue will be communicated to you later) Since the Faculty will be meeting for the first time there is need for somebody with experience to act as Faculty organiser. “The President in Council have asked me to invite you to organise this Faculty. This involves drawing of agenda for that day, organising election for Faculty Chairman and Secretary and organising a committee to look into the training programme of the Faculty as well as examinations. We will like to know how soon the examinations can begin and suggest names of examiners. You are allowed 5 statutory examiners per faculty and one of them would be elected Chief Examiner. The officers will hold office for one year in the first instance. “You are also to discuss the colour of the tassel for your cap and it has been suggested that the tassel should be a blend of the colours of the other faculties - Gold, Red, White, Blue and Green”
- Dr Sangowawa responded to Dr Adewoye’s invitation via a letter dated 12th October, 1987 which is hereby quoted verbatim – see Appendix 11 “I am grateful for your letter of 5th October, 1987 inviting me to act as the organiser for the Faculty of General Medical Practice of the West African College of Physicians. I accept this offer with great honour and humility. “I will like to have a list of names and addresses of the Foundation Fellows of the College.
- Minutes of the 16th November, 1987 of the First Meeting of the Faculty of General Practice is hereby included - see Appendix 111. Dr C. A. Pearson was unanimously elected Temporary Chairman for the day, while Dr A. O. Sangowawa who was the Convener of the meeting read a welcome address which formed the basis of discussion - see Appendix IV.
- Item 87/6, page 2 of the minutes read thus: “At this stage Dr Adesanya moved that Dr Sangowawa be elected the Faculty Secretary, this motion was seconded by Dr Ogbeide, and was unanimously carried. It was thought that we were not ready to elect a Chairman and Dr Sangowawa should carry the responsibilities alone at present.
- Item 87/8, page 2 of the minutes on curriculum read thus: “It was decided that we have to concentrate on curriculum development suitable for each Chapter. At this point, Dr Sangowawa pointed out that this should be uniform as the examinations will be the same. Dr Pearson and Dr Oni gave the Nigeria example of the workshop in 1980 for development of the Nigerian curriculum in which the Nigerian Medical Council, the Ministry of Health, British, Egyptian and Canadian experts in Medical Education in General Practice participated and wondered whether this was possible. It was decided that the workshops should be at grass root levels and should aim at causing awareness of academic general practice among the grass root.
- A curriculum development committee was set up with Dr. Sangowawa, Dr. Amegashie and Dr. Onwudiwe as members. The National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria - GMP curriculum was to be used as a template for developing the Faculty’s curriculum and the committee was charged to complete the assignment within 6 months.
- Item 87/12 of the minutes on Primary Examinations stated thus: “Dr. Pearson observed that the Faculty will have to get a dispensation from the College for its own Primary Examination to include surgical topics.
- The first Primary Examination was conducted in October 1988; the first success in the Part 1 Examinations was in April 1992; while the first Fellows by Examinations were produced in October 1994 in the persons of Dr. K. M. Alabi, Dr. S. Yohanna and Dr. K.O. Adubari.
- By 1993 the Faculty of General Practice produced its First Convocation Lecture which was delivered by Dr. A. O. Sangowawa at the Gambia AGSM.
- In 2002 Dr. S. Tor-Agbidye formally moved to change the nomenclature “FACULTY OF GENERAL PRACTICE” to “FACULTY OF FAMILY MEDICINE” to conform with the global trend of regarding Specialist General Practitioners as Family Physicians.
The objectives of the family medicine training for the WACP are:
- To develop and extend the knowledge, skills and attitudes to manage any clinical problems within the sphere of expected competency, using the principles of systems theory (bio-psychosocial model) and in the context of family, work and community.
- To prepare for positions of leadership in research, good clinical practice, teaching and management of resources.
- To develop the habit of keeping good records for promoting continuity of care and good clinical practice audit.
- To appreciate the doctor’s role in health promotion and disease prevention.
- To recognise the need to engage in professional development through continuing medical education.
- To demonstrate effective communication skills and maintain appropriate doctor-patient relationship.
- To acquire knowledge in medico-legal and ethical issues.
- To show competence in the use of relevant modern diagnostic and therapeutic aids7.
As a regulation, the curriculum was to be reviewed every 5 years this was done in 1988. An international curriculum review was organized in 1998 (after 10 years) jointly by the Faculty of GMP of the NPMCN and the WACP on “Training the Front-Line Doctor for the 21st Century”, principally addressing the paradigm shift of the curriculum to embrace Family Medicine as it pertained globally.
The specialty of Family Medicine was defined as that which provides continuous, comprehensive and coordinated care to individual families and populations undifferentiated by age, gender, disease or organization. This landmark event also was the birth of the Academy of Family Physicians of Nigeria (AFPON) now known as the Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria (SOFPON). This is an umbrella association for all Family Physicians practicing in Nigeria irrespective of their training background. The body holds Annual General and Scientific meetings yearly. Family Physicians from all over the world belong to WONCA – World Organization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians.
In keeping with the five-yearly mandates to review the family medicine postgraduate curriculum, another international conference was held in 2005 in Ibadan (2 years late) to commemorate “25 years of Family Medicine” in Nigeria. The curricula of the faculties at both colleges were reviewed and the “Tenets of Family Medicine and Family Dynamics” were highlighted at this conference and incorporated into the curriculum.
In 2013, the faculty of Family Medicine in the WACP initiated the process of getting family medicine to our francophone speaking colleagues in the West African coast. This was a response to the call of the President of the WACP then Prof. Roger Makanjuala in 2008 to make the WACP a truly West African College.
There are now over 300 fellows by examinations working in the
—Outpatient departments of teaching hospitals,
—Local government areas,
—International development agencies