UK GPs will have a chance to bring their skills and experience to vulnerable patients in countries struggling to provide quality healthcare through a ‘landmark partnership’ between the RCGP and international aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
The initial two projects will run for three years and focus on family medicine, and will see trained RCGP members volunteering in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East for placements between six and 24 months.
One posting will be in Swaziland, at MSF’s Matsapha comprehensive care clinic, which specialises in treating patients with tuberculosis and HIV, and also offers maternity and children’s health services.
A second placement, in Irbid, Jordan – which is currently home to large numbers of refugees displaced by the Syrian civil war – will focus on treating long-term, non-communicable diseases. MSH and the Ministry of health have identified diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease as among the greatest disease burden for refugees.
Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, said the partnership is a key part of the RCGP’s 10-year international strategy to promote family medicine.
She added: ‘I am confident that the resilience, compassion and dedication to providing excellent, holistic care for patients that UK GPs show at home, will be an asset to these MSF projects – and the patients being treated there.’
Vickie Hawkins, executive director of MSF said: ‘GPs are perfectly placed to make a significant contribution to MSF’s projects in the field; they not only have a range of skills, allowing them to treat children, adults and the elderly for a variety of conditions, they also have experience of running medical practices.
‘In the challenging environments that our teams often face, this combination of skills will help us to carry on providing high quality medical care to those who might not otherwise have access to it.’
Last year a group of six UK GPs, including care.data rebel Dr Gordon Gancz, travelled to Sierra Leone to help treat and control the country’s Ebola outbreak
Photo credit: Médecins Sans Frontières