From the CEO's desk: WONCA executive meet

November, 2015

WONCA Executive in Istanbul: 

(Back row from l to r): Matie Obazee (Africa); Pratap Prasad (South Asia); Job Metsemakers (Europe); Mohammed Tarawneh (East Mediterranean); JK Lee (Asia Pacific); Luisa Pettigrew (Member at large); Raman Kumar (young doctor); Amanda Howe (President Elect).
(Front row from l to r): Inez Padula (Iberoamericana); Garth Manning (CEO); Michael Kidd (President); Karen Flegg (Member at large); Ruth Wilson (North America). Not in photo- Donald Li (Member at large)

Greetings again from the WONCA Secretariat in Bangkok. This month I want to report back to everyone on the recent WONCA Executive meeting held in Istanbul on 18th and 19th October, just prior to the WONCA Europe conference.

Financial constraints mean that the WONCA Executive only manages to meet face to face about every nine months or so. It does meet via teleconference every 4 to 6 weeks, and this provides a useful forum to keep each other updated on activities and plans in the regions and among Executive members, but the face to face meetings are inevitably much more productive, offering a chance for genuine discussion and debate.

Executive meetings routine start with a session on strategy, looking in particular at the three over-riding Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which were agreed for the triennium. These three KPIs were:
• To encourage new Member Organizations in each of the WONCA regions
• To develop and support Young Doctor Movements (YDMs) in each of the WONCA regions.
• To encourage and develop greater collaboration between the regions and WHO regional offices.

Most regions have been working hard to recruit new member organizations to WONCA. Really the only exception is North America, where recruitment opportunities are very limited as the region already includes the main organizations in USA and Canada, and supports the Caribbean College of Family Physicians in opening new Chapters in the territories and dependencies throughout the Caribbean. As will be seen below, WONCA’s Eastern Mediterranean Region has been especially active in recruitment, and Africa Region is also proving very active.

Development of, and support to, Young Doctor Movements has been a particular success story in this triennium. At the time of Prague, in June 2013, only four regions could boast of a YDM (Europe, Iberoamericana, Asia Pacific and South Asia). However since then first Africa, then Eastern Mediterranean and finally North America have established YDMs, meaning that WONCA now has a Young Doctor Movement in all seven of its regions, as well as having a YDM representative on the WONCA Executive. We were especially pleased to be able to support the seven YDM leads, together with Raman Kumar, WONCA Executive YDM representative, to enable all of them to attend the Vasco da Gama pre-conference and the WONCA Europe conference in Istanbul, the first time that all YDM leads have been able to meet in person. We are now exploring how we might offer similar assistance to them all for Rio in 2016.

Collaboration with WHO is especially important to us, and we know from membership surveys that you also regard it as a key priority for WONCA. Luisa Pettigrew, our WHO WONCA Liaison, does an incredible job at working with WHO across several divisions, but we have also been endeavouring to enhance links at a regional level. This year Job Metsemakers and Anna Stavdal attended the WHO EURO Regional Council, and Mohammed Tarawneh the WHO EMRO meeting, whilst Matie Obazee will attend the WHO AFRO meeting in Benin. Unfortunately the WHO SEARO meeting was in Timor Leste, and the WHO WPRO meeting in Guam, both of which were logistically very challenging, but we hope that attendance at next year’s events might be a little easier. The invitation to the PAHO meeting arrived at the last minute, and it was impossible for either Ruth Wilson or Inez Padula to attend at such short notice, but we hope that invitations for future years will arrive in a more timely manner.

Executive discussed WONCA’s financial situation. Donald Li, WONCA’s Hon Treasurer, reported that finances are stronger than for some time, but that the situation was still fragile, and the need to strengthen the reserve fund remained. He presented some minor revisions to the 2016 budget, which were endorsed by Executive.

Job Metsemakers reported as Chair of Membership Committee. The Committee had received applications from four Organizations for WONCA membership – Afghan Family Medicine Association; Algerian Society of General Medicine; Kuwaiti Association of Family Physicians and General Practitioners; and National Collective of General Practitioners of Morocco – and Executive was happy to endorse the recommendation that all four be admitted. Note that all four are in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, which is growing rapidly! Membership Committee also recommended granting Academic Membership to the Department of General Practice of University of Edinburgh and Organization in Collaborative Relationship (OCR) status to EACH (European Association for Communication in Healthcare) and Executive was happy to endorse these recommendations also.

A significant amount of time was devoted to proposed changes to Bylaws and Regulations. Karen Flegg, as Chair of the Committee, had canvassed opinions on a number of issues via on line surveys, and she presented a number of amendments to Executive for consideration. Needless to say there was considerable debate and discussion (there always is when Bylaws and Regulations get discussed), and Executive in turn made some suggestions and recommendations which Karen and her committee will now work on, before again presenting to Executive. Once Executive has agreed these then they will be sent out to Member Organizations well in advance of the next World Council meeting for their consideration.

Many other issues were discussed during the two days. I updated Executive on a number of measures being taken to enhance social media contact with our members and some consultancy opportunities which are being developed. We are creating a jobs portal on the WONCA website, and are also planning a mid-life update for the site itself. Executive also endorsed in principle the creation of a WONCA Global Health Award, to be awarded annually to the most successful country, in the view of Executive, in delivering Universal Health Coverage through family practice.

And that’s about it for this month. I recently represented WONCA at two separate meetings at WHO HQ in Geneva. One meeting was looking at Cardiovascular Disease whilst the second was discussing the Global Action Plan on Ageing and Health, and I will report more fully on these meetings next month.

Best wishes to all.

Dr Garth Manning