From the CEO's desk: a new year

January, 2014

Photo: Wonca leaders with RCGP leaders (l to r)- Prof Michael Kidd (WONCA president), Prof Amanda Howe (WONCA president elect), Prof Mike Pringle (RCGP president,) Dr Maureen Baker (RCGP chair), Dr Garth Manning (WONCA CEO)

The new year begins early for WONCA

Another year begins, and it has been a really hectic few weeks already! The WONCA Executive met in London for three days ( January 17-19) with a very full agenda, and many issues were discussed and debated. I’ve highlighted several of the topics in more detail below. 

The meeting was held at the wonderful new London Headquarters of the Royal College of General Practitioners in London (RCGP). Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of RCGP Council, together with Professor Mike Pringle (President), Professor Val Wass (Chair of International Committee) and other RCGP colleagues very kindly hosted our Executive for a splendid dinner on the Friday evening. This was a chance for WONCA and RCGP to chat more socially and to learn more about what each is doing internationally, and we are most grateful to them for their generosity.

Photo: WONCA executive members tour the heritage premises of the Royal College of GPs in London

WHO Executive Board

Immediately following the Executive meeting our President, Michael Kidd; together with President-elect, Amanda Howe; and WONCA-WHO liaison, Luisa Pettigrew; flew to Geneva to take part in the WHO Executive Board meeting. They will report more fully on this meeting elsewhere, but visits such as this to the WHO provide us with a great opportunity to network and to meet and debate and discuss with our various WHO contacts, all the time raising WONCA’s profile within that organisation.

WONCA Executive


The first day of the Executive meeting was devoted to strategy – looking at where WONCA is now, where it wants to be at the end of the triennium and how the Executive plans to get there. All of the Executive, and most especially Regional Presidents, had agreed some key performance indicators (KPIs) last June, and this was a chance to report back to the whole group on progress so far. The main KPIs were:

• Closer liaison with WHO regionally
• Development of, and support to, the regional young doctors movements
• Growing the organisation through recruitment of new member organisations.

North America has only limited dealings with PAHO – the Pan American Health Organisation (as the WHO for the Americas is known) but all other regions reported increasing collaboration with the WHO, with WONCA representatives attending the WHO regional meetings and organising briefings of regional directors. I reported last month on our meeting with Dr Margaret Chan, the WHO’s Director General, in Hong Kong, and Dr Chan has advised all her regional directors that they should meet with the WONCA Executive, either at the January Executive Board meeting or at May’s World Health Assembly.

A lot of progress has also been made regarding the Young Doctors’ movements. Of course this was the first Executive meeting for Dr Raman Kumar, recently appointed to Executive, as the Young Doctor representative. At Prague, the young doctors of Africa established AfriWON, and since then the young doctors of the Eastern Mediterranean Region have established the Al Razi movement, so things are really moving forward. Raman has also been undertaking a survey among young doctors to make sure that their voice is heard at Executive level and is also exploring ways of collaborating more closely with the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA).

Regional Presidents have also been working hard to recruit new Member Organisations, and several countries are being guided through the application process. Meantime, Executive endorsed the application for full membership from the Faculty of Family Medicine of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria.

Photo: WONCA executive in London
(Back row from l to r) Donald Li (Member at large); Richard Roberts (Immediate Past President); Raman Kumar (young doctor); Matie Obazee (Africa); Garth Manning (CEO); JK Lee (Asia Pacific); Job Metsemakers (Europe); Karen Flegg (Member at large);
(Front row from l to r): Nongluck Suwisith (WONCA manager); Mohammed Tarawneh (East Mediterranean); Amanda Howe (President Elect); Michael Kidd (President); Ruth Wilson (North America); Pratap Prasad (South Asia); Luisa Pettigrew (Member at large); Inez Padula (Iberoamericana)

Operational Issues

The remaining two days were spent on more operational issues, including considering the reports from WONCA’s statutory committees, Working Parties and Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Two new WONCA Special interest Groups (SIGs) were proposed – one on Family Violence and one on Health Equity – and both were endorsed by Executive.

Family Violence would previously have more commonly been referred to as “domestic” violence – but the change in terminology is to try to reflect the true extent of the problem, affecting as it does, not just intimate partner violence, but also abuse of children and abuse of the elderly. Abuse can take many forms – physical, sexual, psychological and negligence (whether neglect or deprivation) – and is extremely relevant to primary care/family medicine. This group will doubtless work in close relation to many other WONCA Working Parties (WP) and SIGs, most especially the WONCA WP on Women in Family Medicine and the WONCA WP on Mental Health.

By coincidence, at the WHO Executive Board, a statement was being made on family violence, supported by the World Medical Association and the International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA). Both of these are Organisations in Collaborative Relationship with WONCA - and our Executive team had the chance to add WONCA’s name to this statement. The final version is available elsewhere in this newsletter, and will be presented to 2016 Council for endorsement as an official WONCA Policy Statement.

Speaking of Policy Statements, the Executive also spent some time looking at current WONCA policy statements and trying to identify those which need updating and areas or topics where a policy statement would be useful. They were really pleased to have received draft policy statements from four WONCA WPs, namely on the Environment, on Ethics, on Quality and Safety, and on Research. These statements were endorsed them all for recommendation to Council.

Of course many other issues were covered, and I’ll write more fully on those in the coming months. In the meantime, all at the Secretariat wish all our members and member organisations a busy and productive 2014.

Dr Garth Manning