The College of Family Physicians: CFP (CMSA)


Family medicine in South Africa is vital to the nation’s healthcare, serving as the cornerstone of primary healthcare delivery. With its holistic approach to patient care, family medicine emphasises continuity, comprehensiveness, and coordination of primary care for individuals and families across the lifespan. Family medicine is a generalist clinical discipline that provides comprehensive, continuous, evidence-based, first-contact, and person-centred healthcare, irrespective of the age, gender, diagnosis, special investigation required, or personal characteristics of the individual.
Prof Mergan Naidoo
Prof Hanneke Brits
Prof Klaus von Pressentin

Family physicians in South Africa undergo rigorous training and education, equipping them with the skills to navigate complex healthcare systems and address the diverse needs of their communities. Their key roles include clinician and consultant, capacity builder and clinical trainer, and leader of clinical governance to improve the quality of care and promote patient safety. Family physicians improve individual and population health outcomes through engagement in community-orientated primary care. Their strategic deployment is a cost-effective intervention to strengthen district health systems because they work as the most senior clinician in multidisciplinary, collaborative and team-based practices. As champions of comprehensive healthcare, family physicians advocate for preventive care, health promotion, and community engagement. They are crucial in addressing healthcare disparities, promoting health literacy, and empowering patients to participate actively in their health and well-being.


The College of Family Physicians (CFP) oversees the fellowship, four diplomas, and certificate examinations, guided by a triennially elected council. Recent reforms have enhanced representation within the council, ensuring that all university departments and divisions of family medicine contribute to decision-making processes, particularly in examination development. Notably, on May 8, 2003, the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa (CMSA) senate approved establishing a Fellowship qualification for the CFP, elevating family medicine to equal academic footing with other specialist disciplines. The discipline was recognised as a speciality in 2007 by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), which paved the way for the establishment of a 4-year registrar training period.


Several recent initiatives that are creating history include the standardisation of training unit standards and outcomes, restructuring of the national exit fellowship examination (Fellowship of the College of Family Physicians of South Africa [FCFP {SA}]), transition to a standard national portfolio aligned to entrustable professional activities and workplace-based assessments. In a rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, family medicine continues to grow and innovate, adapting to the changing needs of patients and communities. With a commitment to excellence in patient care, leadership, education, and research, family physicians in South Africa are instrumental in advancing the goals of universal health coverage and promoting health and wellness for all.


Further reading:

Govender I, Omole O. Family medicine as a discipline in South Africa: Historical perspectives. Journal of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa. 2023;1(1):3.


South African Academy of Family Physicians. The contribution of family physicians to district health services in South Africa: A national position paper by the South African Academy of Family Physicians. South African Family Practice. 2022;64(1):5473.


Guidelines for Presidents and Secretaries of Constituent Colleges


ADELEKE, Olukayode Ademola
BRITS, Hanneke
DU PLESSIS, Thomas Ross
MAPHASHA, Olga Mihaho
MASH, Robert James (Bob)
OMOLE, Olufemi Babatunde
ORTEL, Randall Shane
VAN DER BIJL, Chantelle Canada
MULLER Anna Madeleine (D) (Senate)

Prof Mergan Naidoo


Prof. Mergan Naidoo is an accomplished medical professional with a diverse range of qualifications and extensive experience in family medicine and medical education. Holding qualifications including MBChB, M.Fam.Med, FCFP, M.Sc (Sports Medicine), Dip HIV Man, DipPEC, PhD, and PG Dip (HPE), Prof. Naidoo serves as an Associate Professor and Head of the Clinical Unit in the Discipline of Family Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and Wentworth Hospital (WWH). He is recognised as an NRF-rated clinician-scientist, actively contributing to clinical practice and research. With a solid commitment to mentorship, he has supervised numerous registrars, research Masters, and PhD students, playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of healthcare professionals. He has a track record of research publications, with over 30 research publications and over 40 publications in health professions education.

In addition to his academic responsibilities, Prof. Naidoo leads various programs and initiatives, including the coordination of the Family Medicine intern program at Wentworth Hospital, the Family Medicine registrar program at UKZN, and a module for the Postgraduate Diploma in Family Medicine at UKZN. He also actively participates in clinical governance activities within the hospital, demonstrating his dedication to quality healthcare delivery. Prof. Naidoo’s professional interests span infectious, non-communicable, maternal health, and primary emergency care. He is particularly passionate about health professions education, focusing on assessment and workplace-based training.

In his leadership roles, Prof. Naidoo serves as the President of the College of Family Physicians (CFP) of South Africa and the treasurer of the South African Academy of Family Medicine. He is actively involved in pioneering initiatives such as implementing Entrustable Professional Activities in Family Medicine in South Africa and is part of the team involved in advancing programmatic assessment in postgraduate medical education.

Prof Hanneke Brits


Hanneke is a Family Physician employed at the Department of Health and the University of the Free State. She has experience and expertise in different areas of Family Medicine. Her qualifications include MBChB, MFamMed, FCFP, MHPE and PhD. She has a special interest in assessment and completed a PhD in Health Professions Education on the assessment of clinical competence.

Her clinical work is mainly in the field of Paediatrics and Obstetrics. She is involved in guideline development, where she serves on the Combined Primary Healthcare and Adult Hospital level Expert Committee appointed by the minister of health to develop and update Standard Treatment Guidelines for South Africa. She is currently the South African coordinator for the Train the Clinical Trainer course and Chair of the Education and Training committee of the South African Academy of Family Physicians. Hanneke is a trained Paediatric Palliative care physician and the voluntary medical director of Sunflower Children’s Hospice. She also serves on the EXCO of the International Children’s Palliative Care Network. and chairs the African board. In her spare time, she is a keen biker, camper and cook.

Assoc Prof Klaus von Pressentin


Assoc Prof Klaus von Pressentin is an academic, primary care researcher, and clinician-educator based in Cape Town, South Africa. He is the head of the Division of Family Medicine and the deputy head of the Department of Family, Community and Emergency Care (FaCE) in the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Cape Town. His research focuses on primary care service strengthening (including chronic conditions and palliative care in primary care), human resources for health, and health professions education.

A/Prof Von Pressentin teaches primary care research methods, leadership development, clinical governance, evidence-based practice, and clinical consultation skills. His current volunteer activities include serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the South African Family Practice Journal, serving on the Council of the College of Family Physicians of South Africa, and serving on the Senate of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa. As the vice-chair of the Education and Training Committee of the South African Academy of Family Physicians, he leads a special interest group that focuses on developing doctoral research and supervision capacity within the discipline in Southern Africa. A/Prof Von Pressentin is an active collaborator with several regional and international partners and groups.