KHOJA, Prof Tawfik
Saudi Arabia: a leader in family medicine
Where do you currently work?
I am currently holding the position of the Director General of the Executive Board of Health Ministers’ Council for Cooperation Council States (Gulf Cooperation Council or GCC), which is a regional, technical, specialized organization with its membership restricted only to the Cooperation Council States. It works to realize the cooperation and integration in the health fields among the Cooperation Council States. Great achievements have been made by our office: some of the most important for primary health care in our region are:
Issuance of strategies and plans of action in the field of prevention and control of: non-communicable diseases; patient safety and healthcare quality; diabetes control; tobacco control; promotion of occupational health and safety; promotion of health research in the GCC; elderly care; adolescent care; AIDS & malaria; maternal and child health.
- Establishment of Central Drug Registration System & Good Manufacturing Practice
- Establishment of solid system of Expatriate Workers’ Check-up Program in the Gulf.
What other interesting work have you done?
Some of the other interesting ventures that I have been involved in are the unification of GCC efforts in health care policy and strategies development: in particular smoothing of work in a very collaborative way leading to union by the will of Almighty Allah; establishment of Executive Board statute and by-laws; and the accreditation and unification of continuous medical education hours in the GCC States.
What does being a family doctor mean to you?
To be a family doctor means a lot to me : I am of a special mission more than being an ordinary doctor. My job goes beyond provision of health services in ordinary settings but extending it to family with broad horizon of dealing with all aspects affecting health in social, economic, spiritual and environmental aspects, etc.
It is concerned with being commited to provision of high quality services at the family level and I carry the responsibility of community involvement and empowerment. I can, through my work as a family doctor, see which services work, how services be made better for patients and ensure that people get the best quality of care within saftely and the treatment at the time they need it.
What are your interests in the work environment?
My interests in my work mainly focus on establishing good human relations with colleagues, practicing leadership in the context of understanding, cooperation, passion and love for my colleagues.
Quality and reaching towards excellence is a mandate for me in my work, at the same time doing my best to upgrade the skills of my people in various units through provision of continuous training and initiatives.
Innovation is an integral part of my thinking and career. This has resutled in myself and the Executive Board having been awarded more than seven regional and international awards in recognition of excellence in quality, innovation and leadership as well as in various programs like tobacco control.
I am also enthusiastic about authorship and production of books and guidelines for betterment of health systems and improvement outcomes. (editor’s note: This is an understament as Prof Khoja has an extensive list of published books, manuals, protocols and artciles)
What are your interests outside work?
- Cooperation with scientific societies
- Work with charitable and human societies aiming at human welfare.
- Strengthening national, regional and international links with health, human, and social institution and establishments in such a way to promote health of the nation as well as human justice.
- Provision of professional advice and helping others in the fields of my expertise.
What are your visions for the future of family doctors?
The new year, indeed the new millennium and the new age in health care are now upon us as family physicians and we need to work to keep our pride and professionalism intact. Family physicians can lead future reforms in health care if we mind the milestones that mark the road that has carried us safely so far, and for that let us remember our heritage: it stood in the community; it has a heart and it is a home. With this we will recall the essence of why we became a family doctors, it is to treat each patient with a generous dose of that special elixir with safety and effectiveness.
My vision is that I wish every family physician becomes the master of community based services, a central/focal referral point and ‘mini specialist’ where he can acquire a niche in the society to help patients and families and live up to the definition of “Friend, Philosopher and Guide.”
My vision is that the family doctor will be the GCC’s first choice of contact leading the way to a quality health care system in providing comprehensive, integrated, appropriate and wellness oriented services.
I see that in any health care system, part of its worth will be based on what is best about the family physician. We need to declare our values in what we do and demonstrate the value as well as prepare the future for ourself, our patients and for our nation as a whole. We as family physician should promote our leadership in health care organizations and intensify our communication and collaboration with other specialities as well as other health care providers in a positive atmosphere and team work.