Farewell to the Scandinavian Delegation of Family Physicians

Dr Allan Pelch, of Denmark (phot at right), has led the Scandinavian Delegations of Family Physicians to dozens of conferences over the past 22 years. After this remarkable effort over many years, Allan is now retiring and reflect on the joys of these delegations. Pictured above are the Delegation members in Japan

Dear Friends of the Scandinavian Delegation of Family Physicians:

Scandinavian family physicians have focused on WONCA conferences since 1988.

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) hosted the WONCA World Conference in New Orleans in 1988. Having lived in the USA and having studied at universities there, I felt that this was the right time for me to ask my colleagues if they would accompany me. I received enthusiastic support from our Danish College of Family Physicians, enabling me to send out invitations to our 3600+ members. The resulting quite large group of 65, was warmly welcomed by AAFP and by WONCA. We were actually the largest international group from the smallest countries! We were encouraged to return to AAFP’s Annual Scientific Assembly in 1989. Actually, we have returned every year since.

The following year we invited our Norwegian and Swedish colleagues to join us. “The Scandinavian Delegation of Family Physicians” became our official name. We have continued to support WONCA conferences every year since then and we have visited all five continents thanks to WONCA’s member organizations. All conferences have been memorable.

If asked about my own favourites, I would whisper: those held in Africa. One particular conference comes to my mind. Durban, in June, 2001. Before 9-11. Our very large delegation of four hundred members, most of them seeing Africa for the first time, had a great time at the conference, followed by a week doing a traditional safari. This was in sharp contrast to AAFP’s Assembly in Atlanta, in October the same year. Our delegation there numbered eight only! We commiserated with our American colleagues.

Since then we have many happy memories from WONCA conferences and its Member Organisations’ conferences. I have not kept a diary and therefore I do not know the exact number of conferences. Between seventy and ninety?

Now we come to the sad and final part. The time has come for me to terminate the Delegation. I am unable to find a successor and so there will be no more organised Scandinavian delegations. There is a beginning and an end. And this is the end. Thirty-two years of active collaboration with WONCA, AAFP, RACGP (Australian College) and the three Nordic colleges are quite a record, of which I am proud.

We are all lying low at this time reflecting on the good things behind us and waiting for the day when we can resume our busy lives and visit with our colleagues and friends abroad. Will the European Region Conference in Berlin in December 2020 present that opportunity? We hope so.

In conclusion, I wish to thank my wife, Elisabeth, for her very active participation and support throughout these years. You gave me the freedom to devote time to our planning and you were the perfect companion for our colleagues and their families and for me on all our tours.

Do continue to support WONCA with your active participation. Our Delegation is grateful for WONCA’s support and wishes Karen Flegg, our WONCA News editor, many more happy and active years!


Allan Pelch, Family Physician.

Delegation outside a hospital in Manaus pictured below.