From the CEO’s Desk: WONCA Executive meets

Greetings again from Bangkok. This month I’ll report on the meeting of the 2016-18 Executive, which took place in Bangkok on 29th and 30th October 2017.

WONCA Executive Meeting

This was the second full meeting of the 2016-18 WONCA Executive, having held the first full meeting in London in early April (which I reported on in my May column).

This was Professor Michael Kidd’s last Executive meeting, after many years on Executive, and we will miss his calm good sense and institutional knowledge. (Pictured delivering his final words of wisdom). Unfortunately two members of Executive were not able to be present – Dr Anna Stavdal (WONCA Europe President) and A/Professor Inez Padula (WONCA Iberoamericana Region President) were unable to travel for personal reasons.

As noted before, our President, Professor Amanda Howe, had set out a number of strategic goals at the start of her presidency, and assigned some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for all Executive. In brief the goals were: building family medicine capacity in each region of the world; supporting our current member organizations (MOs); greater engagement and communication with our MOs; and looking at family medicine development in countries where WONCA does not currently have an MO.

Each of our Regional Presidents reported back to Executive on activities in their region, including countries which had joined, or had applied to join, or were contemplating joining, WONCA. They also reported back on work and collaboration with WHO in their individual regions. Vivian Martinez Bianchi, our WHO Liaison reported on the many activities and collaborations with WHO over the past six months, and several that are planned for the immediate future. Ana Nunes Barata, the Young Doctor Movement (YDM) representative on Executive, then provided an update on the activities of the various YDMs since the last Executive meeting, and also provided an update on the FM360 young doctor exchange programme.

The President,
in her report to Executive, highlighted her busy travel schedule and the many visits undertaken to represent WONCA at national and international meetings.

Membership matters were discussed. Professor Ruth Wilson, Chair of Membership Committee, presented the membership applications already considered by the Membership Committee, for endorsement by Executive. Executive was happy to endorse the recommendations for:

Full Membership to:

• Pakistan Society of Family Physicians (upgrading from Associate Member)
• The Society of Family Physicians of Ghana (SOFPOG)

Academic Membership to:
• Aswan Family Medicine Residency, Egypt
• Department of General Practice, Faculty of Postgraduate Medicine, Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB), Thimphu, Bhutan

Organization in Collaborative Relationship status to:
• IPCCS - the International Primary Care Cardiovascular Society
• WFPHA - World Federation of Public Health Associations

WONCA’s finances also take up some discussion time. Our Hon Treasurer, Professor Job Metsemakers, was happy to report that both income and expenditure for 2017 were on target, and a small surplus for the year was expected.

Of course, 2018 is a world conference year, and so total conference income would normally be expected to be significantly higher than usual. However Executive spent some time discussing the challenges presented by the ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula, and whilst they have received many reassuring reports from the Host Organizing Committee, nevertheless they felt that they had to be a little more conservative in their estimations of conference income from Korea. This had an effect on the overall budget projections for 2018, and Executive had, very reluctantly, to make some budget cuts for 2018, most especially to WONCA regions and to WONCA Executive costs and expenses. They remain hopeful that income may be higher than these revised projections, but as part of their fiduciary responsibility to Council and WONCA members they felt that they had to take this step, albeit with heavy heart, to ensure the ongoing financial health of the organization

Reports had been received from most of WONCA’s Working Parties (WPs) and Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and it was great to see so much ongoing activities in these groups.

At each Executive meeting we aim to have one or more WP or SIG provide a more detailed briefing, and in Bangkok we were pleased that Professor Val Wass, Chair of the WONCA Working Party on Education, was able to join us in person (she was on her way to the WONCA Asia Pacific conference in Pattaya) and to brief us on the work of her Working Party.

In a separate session, Dr John Wynn Jones, Chair of the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice, also joined via teleconferencing. He talked about the many ongoing activities of the Working Party and highlighted the forthcoming 2018 WONCA Rural Health conference planned for Delhi in late April.

Executive was pleased to endorse a paper on “Non-drug interventions guidance” from the WONCA Working Party (WP) on Mental Health and to note the Cairns “Call to Action” from the WONCA WP on Rural Practice (WWPRP), which had resulted from the Cairns Rural Health conference in 2017. Two other papers from WWPRP – a Statement on Resilience and an Action Statement on Climate Change and Environmental Health – have been referred back to the WP with a request for some minor editorial amendments prior to resubmission.

Finally, two interesting discussion sessions were held: the first was a workshop on key messages to external stakeholders; the second was on a communications strategy for the organization.

Of course many other topics were discussed and debated during a very busy two days, but I hope that this gives you a flavour of at least some of the issues which Executive considers on your behalf. Our President, Professor Amanda Howe, will be writing to all Member Organizations to keep them more fully informed of the outcomes from this Executive meeting. 

Other November Activities

For me, the rest of November will be very much taken up with conference events. Straight after the Executive meeting several of us travelled down to Pattaya, to participate in the very successful WONCA Asia Pacific Region conference. Then in the middle of November I will pay a further short visit to Korea to check on plans for the 2018 world conference in Seoul. Pictured (l to r) are JK Lee (past Asia Pacific region president), Young Sik Kim (HOC chair), Amanda Howe (WONCA President) and Lisa Seo (CEO Korean Academy of Family Medicine) promoting the Seoul conference in Pattaya.

Finally, I will travel to Nepal towards the end of the month, to take part in the WONCA South Asia Region conference in Kathmandu. I’ll report on all these events more fully next month. 
Until next month.
Garth Manning
CEO