Amanda Howe on the Vasco da Gama forum - Barcelona February 2014


I was privileged to attend the first independent young doctors’ meeting organised by the Vasco da Gama (VDGM) movement, in Barcelona, in early February. VDGM have previously met at WONCA Europe conferences (and we don’t want that to stop!), but decided they wanted more time and space to run their own meeting. It was co-hosted by the Spanish WONCA member organisation SemFYC, was very well attended (including one delegate from East Mediterranean region), and had a real ‘buzz’ .

One thing that is really important is that, we develop policy awareness and analytic skills in our young leaders so that they can use the growing influence effectively, and can become solution focused. The programme at Barcelona really contributed to this - I spoke about health inequalities, there was a panel on different health care systems, and also a general discussion about different member organisations including the work of WONCA World. Hopefully such meetings can continue the VDGM group will continue to support the new young doctor movements in other regions, and we shall see more activity from all of you over time! Well done to the organising committee, many thanks to our hosts at SemFYC, and remember, as I said at the close of my keynote –

“Whenever you make time to listen – to try to help – a patient who is old, sick, poor, difficult, damaged, afraid, vulnerable, or a stranger in your place, you are beginning to act on health inequalities. Whenever you convene a team meeting to discuss how to get better care for your less advantaged patients, or go to a meeting with health service managers or politicians to try to get better funding and services, you are tackling health inequalities. When you go to work in a tough practice, or train students and doctors on how to enjoy working in such places , you are tackling health inequalities. We are not all equal – but we can be part of each other’s journey, and we can make a difference. So, as Pablo Picasso is widely quoted as saying, “acción es la clave fundamental de todo éxito” - Action is the fundamental key to success”.
Editors note:
At the forum Amanda delivered the keynote speech "We are not one - how health inequalities in Europe afflict healthcare, patients and healthcare professionals". She has kindly made this available.
Download Amanda Howe's presentation

Photos of the forum can be accessed here