AAFP supports WONCA Europe Istanbul Statement

The President of the American Academy of Family Physicians writes to Professor Michael Kidd, WONCA President, and Professor Job F.M. Metsemakers, President, WONCA Europe

Dear Professors Kidd and Metsemakers,
On behalf of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), we wish to offer this statement in support of the WONCA Europe 2015 Istanbul Statement:

American Academy of Family Physicians - Statement of Support

The refugee crisis in Europe and in other parts of the world is a devastating development for the social infrastructure and health care systems called upon to care for those fleeing instability and violence.

As acknowledged in the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) Europe 2015 Istanbul Statement, which was developed and adopted by family doctors and their member organizations across Europe, the current refugee crisis is the biggest humanitarian emergency of the continent since the World War II. It overwhelms the public health framework and primary health care workforce of the countries directly or indirectly involved in relocation and resettlement of growing number of unplanned refugees from war-torn regions.

The AAFP recognizes the gravity of the current refugee crisis, which is rising to the level of a global public health emergency that transcends borders, potentially impacting countries that are not yet affected.

The AAFP expresses its absolute support of the WONCA Europe 2015 Istanbul Statement. No words of recognition would be enough to express our appreciation and pride for the work of our colleagues in European countries, as well as those in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, who are doing their best to provide integrated and comprehensive health care to an increasingly enlarging number of refugee and migrant arrivals.

Close collaboration between policy makers at the local, national and international levels is imperative to strengthen the family medicine, public health, human, and institutional resources required to address the current crisis and to prevent the disastrous enlargement of this humanitarian emergency.

Along with this statement of support, the AAFP reaffirms its ongoing commitment to working with community and migrant health centers in the United States. The AAFP supports efforts to increase the number and improve the preparation of family physicians for practice in underserved communities, and urges each and every one of its members to become involved personally in improving the health of people who are challenged by economic or social inequality.

The AAFP strongly believes that medical schools, residency programs and continuing professional development programs should enhance their training around social determinants of health, cross-cultural medicine, and the special health needs of refugee and immigrant populations including, but not limited to, members of at-risk populations such as orphans and underage-unaccompanied migrants.

In order to demonstrate the AAFP’s commitment to the health and concerns of refugees and immigrants worldwide, The AAFP Center for Global Health Initiatives (CGHI) will assist in the AAFP in disseminating the WONCA Europe 2015 Istanbul Statement to all of its appropriate entities including the AAFP Board of Directors, AAFP member commissions, AAFP chapter executives, educational and training event planners, and other U.S. family medicine organizations such as the: Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, Association of Departments of Family Medicine, Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors, American Board of Family Medicine, and AAFP Foundation.

Wanda Filer, MD, MBA, FAAFP