From the CEO's desk: WONCA executive meeting outcomes

February, 2015

WONCA Executive:  (seated l to r):  Luisa Pettigrew (UK), Donald Li (Hong Kong, China), Amanda Howe (UK), Michael Kidd (Australia), Garth Manning, Karen Flegg (Australia)
(standing l to r):  Pratap Prasad (Nepal), Inez Padula (Brazil), Matie Obazee (Nigeria), Ruth Wilson (Canada), Job Metsemakers (The Netherlands), Mohammed Tarawneh (Jordan), Jungkwon Lee (South Korea), Raman Kumar (India)

Greetings again from the WONCA Secretariat in Bangkok in this first WONCA News of 2015. It promises to be a really busy year for the organization, with regional conferences in six out of our seven regions (all but North America) as well as a Rural Health conference in Dubrovnik in April, coordinated by the WONCA Working Party on Rural Health, and a whole host of Member Organization events. We hope to report on most of these throughout the year, but look forward to hearing of other events which may be happening.

 See more about coming WONCA conferences here.

WONCA Executive meeting

Your WONCA Executive “meets” every four to six weeks via teleconference but, due to budgetary constraints, only manages to meet face to face every 9 to 12 months. The latest face-to-face meeting took place here in Bangkok, from 24th to 26th January, and as ever there was a very full agenda to work through. The first day tends to concentrate on strategy, looking especially at how Executive members are doing at meeting their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). The initial KPIs, which this Executive agreed, included:
• At least one new Member Organization (MO) recruited in each region.
• Support to the Young Doctor Movements
• Ever-closer collaboration with WHO.

I’m glad to report that most regions have recruited at least one new MO, and we now have a Young Doctor Movement in each of our seven regions, whilst collaboration with WHO has expanded significantly. Executive also considered the priorities that they had set themselves for 2014, and assessed progress, and set and agreed new priorities, for 2015.

WONCA Finances

Finances remain fragile, but are in rather better health at the end of 2014 than they were two years ago, and we finished 2014 with a slightly larger surplus than forecast. Nevertheless Executive is committed to building up sufficient reserve funds to ensure greater long term financial viability, and instructed Hon Treasurer and CEO to revise the 2015 budget keeping in mind that it had to be balanced overall. The revised budget was agreed by Executive, though sadly it has not allowed for any Discretionary Fund, and thus there is no spare funding available to be able to respond to any additional funding requests for 2015.

Member Organizations (MOs)

Executive received a report from the Membership Committee and endorsed its recommendations to offer full MO status to College de la Medicine General (CMG) of France, which is a conjunction of a number of French organizations including Colege National des Generalistes Ensignenets (CNGE) and La Societe Francaise Medicine Generale (SFMG). It also endorsed the recommendation to offer Academic Membership to Institute of General Practice, University of Erlangen-Nuremburg, Germany.

At a meeting in Lisbon in July 2014 Executive had also discussed the problem faced by family doctors in many countries in applying for WONCA membership. Several countries prohibit the formation of professional colleges or societies, and thus doctors in those countries could not meet the WONCA membership criteria. Executive had been keen to encourage membership as much as possible, and so had agreed to offer “Membership pro tem” where needed, pending a proposed change to the bylaws and regulations to be tabled to the 2016 World Council. At this Bangkok meeting Executive was pleased to endorse Membership pro tem to the Qatar Primary Health Care Corporation.

Special Interest Groups

Executive also considered two applications to form new WONCA Special Interest Groups (SIGs). We’re happy to report that both SIGs were approved, so we congratulate the WONCA SIG on Men’s Health, led by Professor Sandro Rodrigues Batista of Brazil, and the WONCA SIG on Catastrophe and Conflict Medicine, led by Dr Rich Withnall of UK.

Gramado statement

Executive also considered a request from the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice to formally endorse and adopt the Gramado Statement. This statement was formulated during the 2014 Rural Health conference in Gramado, Brazil, and is a statement on “Rural Health in Developing Countries”. Executive was happy to endorse the statement, which can be accessed via the WONCA website.

Bylaws and Regulations

There was, inevitably, a great deal of discussion around proposed amendments to WONCA’s bylaws and regulations. Under consideration is a proposed shortening of the bylaws and regulations to make one workable document more in keeping with modern business practice. Changes may also be needed as a consequence of moving to a two-yearly conference cycle. The Bylaws Committee has been working hard, and their work to date was acknowledged by Executive, who will have further discussions throughout 2015 before presenting recommendations to Member Organizations for consideration at Council in 2016.

Business development

Executive also considered a number of papers from CEO outlining suggestions for further business development. Suggestions included development of further consultancy opportunities, especially in accreditation of postgraduate family medicine training programs; development of a jobs portal on the WONCA website; and taking greater control of WONCA conferences through contracting with a core Professional Conference Organizer. I will be carrying out further work on these issues throughout 2015 and 2016 and will report periodically on developments, which are critical to the sustainable financial health of WONCA..

So, all in all it was an extremely busy three days for your Executive. In light of the many activities being undertaken Executive decided that a further face-to-face meeting would be required in late 2015, and I am currently investigating the most cost-effective options for that meeting, given our budget limitations.

Next month I will report on the Prince Mahidol Award Conference, held annually in Bangkok in the last week of January, but best wishes for now until next month.

Garth Manning