Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chandramani Thuraisingham
I wish to thank members of the Academy of Family Physicians of Malaysia for electing me to the office of President for the term of 2021/22. It is indeed a privilege and honour, and I am indeed grateful for the trust and confidence that has been placed in me. I will endeavour to do my very best in the interest of all members.
I stand on the shoulders of the Presidents who came before me and in this regard would like to express my sincere gratitude to the immediate outgoing President, Dr Wee Eng Chye and the Council for their exemplary service in the past year and for having instituted an accountable portfolio for me to take on.
We are indeed honoured to have Duli Yang Maha Mulia Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan Darul Khusus, Tuanku Muhriz ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir as the Royal Patron for the Academy of Family Physicians of Malaysia. As a mark of respect, we hope to be able to commemorate the convocation of our graduates in June this year in his royal state of Negri Sembilan. With his commitment to elevate the standard of healthcare and primary care delivery in Malaysia, I am sure the Academy of Family Physicians will reach even greater heights under his patronage. Duli Yang Maha Mulia Tuanku and Duli Yang Maha Mulia Tuanku Ampuan Besar Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Aishah Rohani binti Almarhum Tengku Besar Mahmud have always shown a keen interest in community service and development, creating a special bond with people wherever they went, showing us how much they value care and compassion in their daily life.
Since the first Conjoint MAFP-FRACGP Examination was conducted in Malaysia in 1982, the academic programmes of AFPM have leaned towards closing the gap in the shortage of trained primary care physicians in Malaysia. However, there is a still a long way to go and we must be steadfast in our mission. There is a need for general practitioners in Malaysia to undergo specialisation so that general practice transcends to a more dynamic and a sophisticated form of healthcare, at the gatekeeper level. This would ensure better population health outcomes and socioeconomic equality in health. It is well known that a strong and high-quality primary care is the bedrock of a good healthcare system (Starfield, 1994). In this 21st century, it is widely accepted particularly in care of patients with chronic disease, that doctors should respond to patients’ preferences, values, and needs in a patient-centred manner. However, this must always align with scientific evidence. While this is so, humanistic medicine has become more difficult to practice today, as doctors are required to balance modern technology with the everlasting need for the human “touch” and listening with patience to the views and needs of patients. Primary care doctors must also learn how to win trust of their patients, while also getting them to engage more in their own health care, for better health outcomes.
The uniqueness of AFPM’s academic programmes in being conducted only over the weekends was the foresight of our predecessors. This enabled doctors who were actively engaged in general practice to find time to upskill themselves, with our study programmes with minimum disruption to their practice and livelihood. It is the Academy’s mission to promote high quality clinical practice, education and research for Malaysian General Practice.
AFPM’s academic programme is a 4-year progressive pathway. With successful completion of the initial 2 years and with passing of the examination, candidates are awarded the Graduate Certificate in Family Medicine (GCFM). Suitable candidates may progress to the Advanced Training in Family Medicine (ATFM) programme over the next 2 years. Successful completion of the ATFM programme with passing of the exam and fulfilment of criteria culminates in the awarding of the MAFP-icFRACGP qualification.
Despite the challenges during this pandemic the Academy of Family Physicians of Malaysia, (AFPM) like all other academic institutions has adapted and adjusted well. Most social events of AFPM have gone online including the examinations with resounding success, and recently even the Annual General Meeting was held as a hybrid event. We are proud to say that our team comprising the Board of Censors, Board of Examiners and the IT have shown much tenacity and resilience in successfully conducting the Part 2 of the MAFP-icFRACGP examination in January this year, online. The exam was conducted as a Remote Clinical Examination (RCE) in keeping with RACGP’s current educational strategy. We are sincerely hoping that the situation on the ground will improve and that we will be able to share in our graduates’ success at a proposed face-to-face convocation in June with much fanfare. AFPM recently also embarked on a monthly series of webinars by experts on relevant topics in general practice for continuous professional development.
The academic programmes of AFPM are being enhanced with a review of the modules and the curriculum content so that our graduates would not only meet the needs of society in Malaysia, but also be on par with international standards. This year AFPM will strive towards more robust technology-based learning and a strengthening of community-orientated education. It will also look towards student support mechanisms related to student welfare with the formulation of an Education Policy for deserving, committed and exemplary AFPM members who aspire to continue in the progressive pathway after completing the GCFM, in order to attain the MAFP-icFRACGP qualification.
While we continue to foster and strengthen our ties with RACGP, AFPM will also strive to build stronger relationships with the Ministry of Health Malaysia, professional bodies, academic institutions, and peers both in Malaysia and internationally, for strategic partnerships and collaboration in research.
Finally, I must extend my sincere thanks to the Council, Dean of Graduate Studies, Censor Board, Programme Directors, Chief Examiner, Board of Examiners, Chapter of Teachers and GCFM Faculty, for their dedication and sterling support without whom the business of AFPM would not have been viable. Good staff are vital and are without a doubt the backbone of any business, and I therefore also take this opportunity to thank all the administrative staff at AFPM for having performed their duties meticulously and with close attention to detail, in their collective effort to attain the highest standards within the organization.
While remembering to stay safe and healthy, let us also continue to remain socially responsible.
Associate Professor Dr Chandramani Thuraisingham
MBBS, MAFP, FAFP, FRACGP, MHPE, AM, DRM, PDOH
Academy of Family Physicians of Malaysia