From the CEO's desk: WONCA Executive meet

May, 2017

Photo: WONCA World Executive 2016-2018

Greetings again from Bangkok. This month I want to report on the first full meeting for the 2016 -18 Executive, which took place in London on 1st and 2nd April.

WONCA Executive Meeting – April 2017

The 2016-18 WONCA Executive had held an initial short meeting in Rio, immediately after the World Council, and of course also meets monthly via teleconference, but this was its first full face-to-face meeting. The meeting took place at the headquarters of the Royal College of GPs in London on 1st and 2nd April, and was preceded by a dinner on the evening of 31st March, at which we were delighted to welcome and host several of our key RCGP colleagues, including Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, RCGP Chair of Council; Professor Val Wass, RCGP WONCA representative and Chair of the WONCA Working Party on Education; and Dr Claire Thomas, Chair of the Vasco da Gama Movement, the Young Doctor Movement for WONCA Europe.

Our President, Professor Amanda Howe, had set out a number of strategic goals at the start of her presidency, and assigned some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for all Executive. In brief the goals were: building family medicine capacity in each region of the world; supporting our current member organizations (MOs); greater engagement and communication with our MOs; and looking at family medicine development in countries where WONCA does not currently have an MO.

Each of our Regional Presidents reported back to Executive on activities in their region, including countries which had joined, or had applied to join, or were contemplating joining, WONCA. They also reported back on work and collaboration with WHO in their individual regions. Ana Nunes Barata, the Young Doctor Movement (YDM) representative on Executive, then provided an update on all that the YDMs had been doing since the last Executive meeting.

The President, in her report to Executive, highlighted our aspiration to hold a global policy summit on family medicine, to which key ministries, WHO and other development partners could be invited. Discussions with the Robert Graham Center in Washington DC were ongoing, but it was hoped that such a summit might be possible in the next 12 to 18 months. She also reported on steps to improve our communication and engagement with our Member Organizations, and she will be writing to all MOs with some suggestions to help with better coordination and liaison.


Membership matters were discussed. Professor Ruth Wilson, Chair of Membership Committee, presented the membership applications already considered by the Membership Committee, for consideration by Executive.

Executive endorsed the recommendations for

Full Membership to:
• College of Indonesian Primary Care Physicians

Academic Membership to:
• Department of Family Medicine, University of Malawi College of Medicine
• Division of Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Professor Wilson and the CEO had also proposed some enhancements to the package of benefits offered to our Academic Members, including the provision of discounted delegate fee for one departmental member at every WONCA conference, and Executive endorsed the recommendations.


WONCA’s finances inevitably take up some discussion time, and this occasion was little different with the Treasurer, Professor Job Metsemakers, leading the discussion. Income for 2016 had been below estimates, but as expenditure had also been lower than forecast we finished the year with a slightly larger surplus than predicted. However it is still vital that we build up further reserves, and so your Executive remains determined that no deficit budget will be accepted.

The 2017 budget was revisited in the light of a number of extra demands on funds; not all of these were agreed, but in order to accede to some extra costs, inevitable savings had to be found, and regrettably Executive had to make small cuts to the budgets for all regions and Working Parties for 2017. It was agreed, however, that if budget permits the WP cuts would be at least partially restored in 2018.

Bylaws and Regulations

Bylaws and Regulations is always another major topic for discussion. The 2016 Council in Rio de Janeiro had endorsed the proposal to split Bylaws and Regulations into “Bylaws” or “Constitution”, and for Regulations to be converted into “Organizational Policies”. This latter document can be freely amended and added to by Executive, whilst the Constitution requires approval of Council before any changes can be formally adopted. Dr Karen Flegg, as Chair of Bylaws, briefed Executive on the work carried out to date on Bylaws development, and outlined the further work which would be required during this biennium. The Organizational Policies document is work in progress and she and the CEO continue to communicate and interact on this.


WONCA Accreditation was also discussed. Accreditation of family medicine training programmes, against the criteria developed by our Working Party on Education (WONCA Global Standards for Postgraduate Family Medicine Education), has already been agreed, but WONCA has received a number of requests for accreditation of individual practices, in countries where no national standards apply. Thus I have been working to develop practice accreditation standards, in consultation with relevant Working Parties and regions, and I presented these to Executive for consideration. Executive was very supportive in principle, though recommended some changes to the criteria and to the wording of the documents. I am now working to refine the documents as suggested, and will re-present to Executive for final endorsement in the near future, after which piloting of the process can begin.

Prior to this Executive meeting all of WONCA’s Working Party and Special Interest Groups had been asked to produce action plans for the biennium. These were all considered by Executive and it was heartening to see so many great developments and plans being made by so many of the groups.

Working Parties and Special Interest Groups

At each Executive meeting we plan to have one or more WP or SIG provide a more detailed briefing, and in London we were pleased that Dr Kees van Boven from WICC (the WONCA International Classification Committee) was able to join by teleconference to brief Executive on the work of WICC, explain more about ICPC2 (International Classification of Primary Care version 2), describe the work that WICC is doing in collaboration with WHO on development of ICD-11 and tell a little of the plans for development of ICPC3 and what additional benefits this would bring. He took several questions from Executive and it proved a very useful opportunity to ensure that Executive were better informed of the work of this, our oldest Working Party.

Executive was pleased to endorse a statement on planetary health, produced by our Working Party on the Environment, subject to a few minor amendments. A statement by the SIG on Family Violence was agreed in principle, but the SIG was asked to make some revisions to the document before sending it back to Executive for further consideration and formal endorsement.

Finally, two interesting discussion sessions were held: the first on the terminology around primary health care/family medicine; and the second on workforce models.

Of course many other topics were discussed and debated during a very busy two days, but I hope that this gives you a flavour of at least some of the issues which Executive considers on your behalf.

World Family Doctor Day

Looking ahead to May (I’m writing this in late April), of course we have World Family Doctor Day on 19th May, when we celebrate the work of family doctors around the world.

The theme for this year is mental health issues, most especially depression, and a number of resources are available. Generic WONCA logos and posters are available via the WONCA website.

Professor Chris Dowrick, Chair of the WONCA Working Party on Mental Health, has written his “Mental Health Matters” column focusing on Family Doctor Day and also highlighting the evidence-based guide which the WP have produced to help you with the first, crucial consultation with patients who may be depressed.

WHO also featured depression in its World Health Day and has made a number of resources available as part of its “Let’s Talk” campaign. Many of these resources have a regional basis and can be accessed here.

Until next month.
Garth Manning