‘Family physicians key to tackling long-term effects of COVID-19’

Long-term effects of COVID-19 can cause lingering health problems, even as the Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria (SOFPON), has reiterated the importance of Family Physicians in reducing the scourge of the pandemic through patient education and innovative healthcare delivery.

The President, SOFON, Professor Musa Dankyau, in a chat at the 25th annual general and scientific conference on Wednesday in Abuja, said family physicians who are the first contact of care for most patients accessing private and public health facilities in Nigeria, have been working tirelessly to reduce the scourge of the pandemic in Nigeria. 

“As Family Physicians, we are primary care physicians, as we provide first contact care, comprehensive care, continued care and coordinated care for Nigerians. What this means is that Family Doctors help Nigerians to prevent diseases and if they need to see a surgeon or a gynaecologist for instance, they coordinate that care. That is why we call ourselves unique,” Dankyau explained.

Speaking on the Theme of the conference: “The Family Physician and the Challenges of Transiting the COVID-19 Pandemic”, the president said, at the early stage of the pandemic, the prevalence was high and as such many Nigerians were affected. While it takes two weeks for the symptoms of the pandemic to elapse for some, for others, it is still affecting their health, Dankyau stated.

“Now we are having fewer people affected, but with long COVID, (a term to describe the effects of COVID-19 that continue for weeks or months beyond the initial illness), the symptoms still longer for some Nigerians, causing great havoc on their health. Though, most people with long COVID don’t have the typical classic symptoms, but they have all sorts of other symptoms that affect the quality of their lives,” he added.

As Family Physicians, being the first and last persons a patient sees, Dankyau said, “We tend to see the first cases as they come and when others have done their work, we are still there with the patient who may likely have a long-term complain. We are not giving up on them. We will be with them until our patients are okay medically, because we are trained to provide comprehensive, continuing care and coordinated care to individuals and families within the context of their communities in Nigeria.

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