From the CEO's desk: Arrangements for Seoul 2018

Photo: the last WONCA World Council met in Rio in 2016

Hello again from Bangkok. In March I returned to Korea, for a further (and final) meeting of the Conference Planning Committee (CPC) for Seoul 2018, so I thought that this month I’d remind everyone of the arrangements and timetable for Seoul, and encourage everyone to make their travel plans for what will be an excellent event in a fascinating city.

There are really four (or even five) events, staged back to back at WONCA conferences. It all starts with a meeting of the WONCA World Executive, then the Regional Councils, followed by the World Council meeting. Then just before the conference gets under way many of WONCA Working Parties (WPs) and Special Interest Groups (SIGs) hold a meeting, or even a full pre-conference event, and our Young Doctor Movements (YDMs) also arrange a pre-conference. Finally there is the World Conference itself. I’ll take each of these events in turn.

WONCA Executive -October 11-12 at Incheon

The WONCA executive will hold its fourth, and final, full meeting of the 2016-18 biennium on Thursday 11th and Friday 12th October. Much of the meeting is devoted to preparations for the World Council, but it is also a chance for the outgoing Executive to reflect on their achievements over the two years, and to give those remaining on Executive a chance to identify key priorities for the two years ahead.

Regional Councils - October 13 at Incheon

All WONCA regions hold a meeting of their Council on the day before World Council begins. For 2018 this will take place on Saturday 13th October, with Europe and Iberoamericana Councils meeting all da y and the remainder meeting for half a day. One key decision each Council must make is to confirm their nomination for Regional President for the biennium ahead, as this recommendation has to be put to World Council for endorsement.

WONCA World Council - October 14-16 at Incheon

The full meeting of our World Council – the governing body of the organization – will take place from 9am on Sunday 14th through to lunchtime on Tuesday 16th October. Location and more detailed logistics are highlighted below. Well in advance of the meeting, the Secretariat will contact all WONCA Member Organizations asking for a formal notification of their representative (and observer, if any). Only properly accredited and documented representatives will be allowed to vote at the Council meeting, so it’s vital that all MOs inform the Secretariat in good time and with accurate information, otherwise you will lose your vote. There will, inevitably, be many papers relating to Council business, but we hope to have those circulated by the beginning of October, and they will also be provided in soft copy at the meeting.

WONCA WPs, SIGs and YDMs - October 17 at CoEX

On Wednesday 17th October all WONCA WPs and SIGs will have the opportunity to hold a meeting, whether for a whole day or just half a day. Some of these groups opt to run a workshop-type event, as a way of better engaging with members and potential members. Our YDMs will also hold a pre-conference that day, which is being organized and coordinated by our YDM colleagues in Korea.

WONCA World Conference - October 17-21 at CoEX

Finally, and after all the hors d’oeuvres, come the main course – the WONCA World Conference. With seven plenaries and at least 16 parallel sessions, there will be something for everyone, and the Korean Host Organizing Committee has worked really hard to ensure an interesting and exciting programme. As has been the trend in recent years, there will be more workshops and fewer oral presentations, but there will be a vast range of topics covered, with a real emphasis on the challenges for family medicine of an ageing population. There will also be a number of skills workshops, so go on line to find these and book your place.

The conference website has very full details of all aspects of the event, from a list of plenary speakers, to the offer of awards and travel grants, to a list of local hotels and tours, so I strongly urge you to go on line and have a look.

Conference website


This year, logistics take a slightly different format from some more recent ones, in that the Council venue and conference venue are different. There were a number of reasons for this, but one of them was to try to offer a more cost-effective location for Council, as Seoul is a very expensive city, and we wanted to encourage as big an attendance at Council meetings as possible.

Thus the first three events listed above – Executive, Regional Council and World Council – will take place at the Incheon Sheraton Hotel, quite close to the international airport. There is a regular shuttle bus from Incheon Airport to the hotel, with fares at 7,000 Won (around $6) and the journey takes around 30 minutes. We have negotiated a special price at the hotel for WONCA delegates, and hopefully the system will be able to accept bookings, at the corporate rate, in the near future. We have also asked the conference organizers to identify a number of other hotels in the vicinity, at varying prices, which may especially be of interest to those on a more limited budget.

Many delegates will wish to transfer on Tuesday 16th October from Incheon to the Gangnam district of Seoul, home to the conference venue. We hope to have a coach service available, at a very reasonable price, from Incheon Sheraton to a central location in Gangnam – most probably the transport hub within the CoEx complex. All meetings for WPs and SIGs, and the YDM pre-conference, will take place at CoEx.

There is a wide choice of hotels, at a variety of prices, all within easy reach of CoEx, the conference venue, and these are detailed on the conference website - . Finally at the end of the conference there are regular shuttle buses from CALT – the city airport bus terminal at CoEx – back to Incheon airport every 20 minutes or so at a cost of 15,000 Won ($14). Journey time is around 90 minutes.

I really do recommend everyone to look at the conference website, as this contains some very useful information. It’s also worth returning to the website from time to time for periodic updates on the programme.

Future Events

April sees the WONCA Rural Health conference in Delhi (25th to 29th April) and I’m very much looking forward to attending and to meeting old friends and making some new ones. At the beginning of May I’ll also be representing WONCA at the world conference of the International Commission for Occupational Heath (ICOH) which is the occupational health equivalent of WONCA. Together with a number of colleagues, including Ezequiel Lopez (Chair of WONCA’s SIG on Workers’ Health), Peter Buijs and Frank van Dijk I’ll be leading a workshop on “Scaling up workers’ health through primary health care”.

Later in May will be the World Health Assembly in Geneva, and as usual WONCA will be well represented. Amanda Howe and I will start the week, with Donald Li and Viviana Martinez Bianchi taking over from us just before we travel on to the WONCA Europe conference in Krakow. Finally we will all reunite in Warsaw, when the next full meeting of Executive will take place on 28th an 29th May. So… a busy few months ahead, but I’ll continue to report back through this column.

Until next month.

Dr Garth Manning
Chief Executive Officer