South Asia region Montegut Scholar Report - Dr Veena Kumari

Dr Veena Kumari was a 2017 Montegut Scholarship winner for the WONCA South Asia Region. She has recently taken up a new job as an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine in Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, Pakistan. Dr Kumari attended the South Asia region conference in Nepal from 24-26 November 2017 as well as The Spice Route pre conference. Here she reports on her experience.

The Spice Route Pre Conference -24 November 2017

I began my journey with the pre conference for young doctors. It started with the welcome address by WONCA world president, Prof Amanda Howe, who praised the work of The Spice Route movement and encouraged young doctors to come forward and take a lead. The theme “Diversity in Necessity” was well aligned with entire meeting.

My favorite part of the meeting was young Nepali GPs sharing their experience regarding how they work in remote and rural areas and manage it all by themselves.

For me a session I could relate to was on “General Practice in the region”, in which representative from every country discussed their primary health care system and the struggle for recognition of family medicine. Knowing and learning about the challenges and difficulties faced by other GPs in the region helps in reaching to the solutions of similar issues.

The talk on the family medicine residency program in Nepal was the highlight of the meeting for me. They have made a robust training program based on the needs of their country, which comprises of both emergency medicine and general practice. As a teacher and trainer of postgraduate trainees, I found this talk highly enriching and fruitful.

The Conference - 25-26 November 2017

The theme of the conference “GP specialist progressing towards universal health coverage” was highly interesting, very well structured and relevant to the target audience. It was spread over two days in the form of keynote talks, plenary sessions, workshops and meetings.
Day one of the conference started with Prof Amanda Howe on “Opportunity comes but does not linger”, which is very true in the fast paced modern world.

I feel privileged to have conducted a workshop on young doctors and students in rural practice in which we discussed the rural health care in different countries of the region and how to improve health indicators.

Day two started with a very impressive talk on “Hippocratic Family Physician” by Dr Kanu Bala. The session on “Family doctor yesterday, today, tomorrow towards universal health coverage” by Dr Arulrhaj was also excellent. I learnt about family practice both in ancient times and the modern era.
The second day of this conference also provided me with the opportunity to present my work on “Knowledge and practices of mothers regarding food safety attending family medicine clinics of a teaching hospital of Karachi, Pakistan”. It was very well received.

Action Points

• Maintain an interactive relationship with the people I met, who belong to diverse cultural backgrounds, improving networking among the Family Medicine family.
• Design a robust Family Medicine residency program according to the needs and requirements of my country, incorporating all key points acquired at the conference.
• Implement the “learn, apply and develop” strategy to promote general practice in the region.
• Take the Family Medicine in Pakistan to a higher level by increasing the number of trained GPs in the country, providing them structured training program in line with the current demands of a well-organized health care system.
• Participate in international level research to benefit the population residing in resource limited setting.
• Introduce the concept of Family Medicine at the undergraduate level such that young doctors consider Family Medicine as a recognized specialty.
• Develop a strategy, in collaboration with my international colleagues, which will enable Family Medicine to gain its deserved recognition globally.

Considering my role as Assistant Professor of Family Medicine in Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, I will have plenty of opportunities to apply my knowledge and experiences gained from this WONCA South Asia Regional Conference.

Finally, I want to thank you to ABFM-F once again for offering me this opportunity to attend the WONCA South Asia Regional Conference 2017. It was a wonderful experience. The links that I have made, would last for life. The learnings and experiences that I have gathered, will not only benefit me but also my patients, my students and trainees, my department, my country and to the region.