From the CEO’s desk: reporting on World Council

November, 2018

Photo: Spectacular view from Council meeting hotel in Incheon.

Greetings again from the WONCA Secretariat. With a meeting of the WONCA Executive, a WONCA Council and then a brilliant WONCA conference in Seoul It has been an incredibly busy time since my last column.

World Council

The outgoing WONCA Executive met for two days in Incheon, prior to the World Council, with much of the meeting a preparation for Council itself.

Council is always a very busy and hectic time for the Secretariat, but this Council meeting was especially collegial and facilitative, and the fact that we finished early on all three days gives an indication of how smoothly it all went. As I write this (mid-November) the minutes from the Council meeting are just being finalised, and we hope to circulate them to all Member Organizations (MOs) in the coming few days. Of especial note though were:

• Welcoming 14 new or upgraded members to WONCA since the last Council meeting.
• Recording a further two years of budget surplus, to add to the three years reported in 2016.
• Endorsing 10 WONCA Position Statements as well as the new WONCA Practice Accreditation Standards.
• Approving a new WONCA Statement on LGBTQ, as developed by the WONCA Organizational Equity Committee.
• Ratifying the seven Regional Presidents and the Chairs of WONCA Working Parties (WPs) and SIGs.


Elections were also held for WONCA Officer positions. Dr Anna Stavdal (Norway) was elected as President-Elect and will become WONCA’s second female President in 2020. Congratulations also to Prof Val Wass (UK) and to Drs Viviana Martinez Bianchi (USA) and Pratyush Kumar (India) who were confirmed as Members-at-Large; and to Dr Ana Nunes Barata (Portugal) who was re-elected as the Young Doctor Representative. You can view the new WONCA Executive in a separate news item, which also includes details of Chairs of the various WONCA Working Parties and Special Interest Groups. There’s also an interesting article on our new President, Dr Donald Li, who assumed office at a handover ceremony on 20th October, during the World Conference.

Photos; Amanda Howe handing over the chain of  office to Donald Li.

Finally congratulations also to the Royal Australian College of GPs who won the bid for the WONCA conference in 2022, with the proposed venue of Sydney.

Amendments to WONCA Bylaws and Regulations is also a key part of any WONCA Council. Unfortunately, due to an oversight in the Secretariat we had not circulated the proposed amendments to Member Organizations with three months’ notice, as required by the Bylaws themselves. Despite this, Dr Karen Flegg, Chair of Bylaws and Regulations Committee, gave a very proficient presentation on the proposed changes.

Most proposals were accepted as presented, but there was much discussion around the proposal concerning arrangements for replacement of the Young Doctor Representative on Executive in the event of the existing representative being unable to continue for whatever reason. It was agreed that a new motion on this topic would be developed in consultation with the YDM representative. All Bylaws proposals will then be circulated to Member Organizations and an electronic Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) held not less than 120 days after notification. At this EGM, Member Organizations will be asked to vote electronically on the proposed Bylaws amendments, which can then hopefully be adopted.

One further session in Council is worth highlighting. Our key Designated Technical Officer at WHO HQ is Dr Shannon Barkley, as Board-certified family physician. We were delighted to welcome Shannon to the Council meeting, where she gave an excellent presentation on a whole series of WHO issues which directly or indirectly impact on WONCA’s liaison with WHO. This was followed by a presentation from Vivi Martinez Bianchi, our WONCA-WHO Liaison, and then a brief report from our President on the impending Astana meeting.

Following these presentations, Council broke into a number of discussion groups, based around the theme of “Strengthening PHC: how can we make this a reality”. The four groups reported back to Council the following morning, with Shannon also providing observations on the feedback.

And as all of this were not enough, Council was then followed by an excellent WONCA World Conference. The venue was excellent, the presentations stimulating and the social events were fantastic. Everyone was so warm and welcoming, and it really was the WONCA family all together. Friendships were renewed and new ones made, and we all look forward now to Abu Dhabi in November 2020.

Two significant statements resulted from the Seoul Conference.

WONCA and the Host Organizing Committee jointly released the Seoul Declaration:
“Family Doctors meeting at the WONCA World conference in Seoul confirm the global importance of the renewal of international commitment to strengthening Primary Health Care to achieve universal health coverage – as expressed in the World Health Organization’s ‘Astana Declaration’ 2018”

Read the full Seoul Declaration
 WONCA also released a Statement on Ageing and Health. The Statement was prepared by our Special Interest Group on Ageing and Health, led by Professor Dimity Pond, and endorsed by Executive at its meeting in Incheon. The statement emphasises how family doctors are best placed to promote healthy ageing among their communities, and accords closely with comments made by Dr John Beard, of WHO’s Department of Life Cycle, during his plenary at the conference.

Read the full Statement an Ageing and Health
We will continue to report on outcomes from Council and conference in the coming months, but in the meantime the Secretariat staff join me in sending greetings to all our members across the globe. We wish you all a Happy New Year for 2019 and look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at the various events throughout the coming year.

Dr Garth Manning