By G9ija

The Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria (SOFPON) says family physicians are critical to public health programmes, as patients are more likely to receive vaccines after discussion with their family physicians.

Its President, Dr Nnaedozie Obiegbu, made the assertions at a news conference on the society’s ongoing Annual General Meeting on Thursday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that theme of the meeting is: “The Family Physician in the Era of COVID-19 Infection.”

According to Obiegbu, many patients turn to them as trusted and credible sources of information due to long-standing relationships and trust.

He said that offering preventive health services and health promotion was essential to family medicine.

“Vaccination constitutes one of the most cost effective clinical preventive packages and the cornerstone of the management and curtailing of infectious disease outbreaks.

“It is our duty to remain up-to-date with the best evidence as the pandemic progresses and ensure we provide accurate information on preventive measures, self-management of symptoms, safety of vaccination, as well as defusing incorrect and detrimental information,” Obiegbu said.

He also said family physicians attend to mental health needs of patients, adding that such services had increased due to fear of over exposure to COVID-19, long periods of isolation and loss of livelihoods brought by the pandemic.

Obiegbu said that primary care during a pandemic would be easier by technology including enabling virtual care, virtual communication and enhanced triage and surveillance.

He added that family physicians were currently more involved with home-based care, saying that patients want more health information, better access to care teams and tools to manage their health and wellbeing.

Also, the Secretary of the society, Dr Achiaka Irabor, said that family physicians individualise care to their patients.

Irabor said that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, new technologies had emerged as fundamental tools for healthcare professionals to continue their mission.

She said that family physicians would continue to explore, embrace and leverage digital technologies that would help enhance patient’s care