Scientific letters

History of academic family medicine in South Africa – When did it start?

Bernhard Gaede
South African Family Practice | Vol 62, No 1 : Part 1| a5031 | DOI: | © 2020 Bernhard Gaede | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 November 2019 | Published: 25 March 2020

About the author(s)

Bernhard Gaede, Department of Family Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


The literature on the history of family medicine as an academic discipline locates its beginning with the establishment of two faculties linked to the Royal College of General Practice in 1958. However, the history of Community Oriented Primary Care documents, how the Kark’s moved from Pholela in KwaZulu-Natal, were involved with the establishment of the Natal Medical School in Durban. As part of this a Department of Social, Preventative and Family Medicine was established in 1956 with Dr Sidney Kark as its first Head of Department. The South African Academy of Family Practice and Primary Care established in 1980 explicitly orientated itself in relation to public healthcare (PHC). We need to re-claim the history of Community Oriented Primary Care as part of the history of family medicine and proudly trace our current ethos and values to the seminal work of the Kark’s.


family medicine; history; COPC; academic medicine; SAAFP


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