From the Headquarters: March 2021

The change of the Secretariat has come amidst challenging times for humanity. Family doctors, members of our WONCA family, have worked tirelessly on the frontline along with other primary healthcare professionals. Not only have they offered care to patients with COVID-19, but they have also continued caring for the rest of the patients and the public; from those with non-communicable diseases to those suffering from the repercussions of the measures related to the pandemic.

For several months we have been working on setting up the new Secretariat office in Brussels. Our team consists of Andrea Zard, Chief Administrative Officer; Maria Dolores Zavala, Communications & Public Relations Officer; Marie Mahieux, Accounts Manager; and Andrea Marengo, Membership Manager. I am particularly appreciative of their effort, diligence, and enthusiasm in this new beginning. Please also do take note of the new email address for general inquiries: [email protected]

We would all like to express our gratitude to Dr Garth Manning and his Bangkok secretariat team, Dr Nongluck Suwisith, Ms Anuta Mustafa, and Ms Ya Min Cho, for their support and guidance in the transition. For more than eight years, Dr Manning worked together with the WONCA leadership to build a sustainable foundation for our organisation; you can read many of his achievements in his final report.

Before we touch on more organisational matters, I would like to take the opportunity to warmly welcome Professor Taghreed Farahat, the Chair of the East Mediterranean Region, to the WONCA Executive Committee. It will be a pleasure for all of us to work together.

Furthermore, we are delighted to announce the theme of World Family Doctor Day 2021: “Building the Future with Family Doctors”. We are currently developing communication material, including a media kit that you will be able to tailor and use for your national campaign. We will soon be informing you with more.

For the past months we have been working on several organisational aspects along with the Executive Committee:

1. Extraordinary General Meeting of the Council
As you may know by now, the pandemic resulted in postponing the World Council Meeting of Abu Dhabi from 2020 to 2021. We have called for an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Council to adopt the resolution of altering our Bylaws with six specific changes, which will allow us to hold meetings of the Council by electronic means. The Extraordinary General Meeting of the Council will take place from 11 to 16 May 2021: Council members will be able to attend the meeting by logging into a dedicated online platform, consulting the pre-recorded material and voting. Although there will be no live events during these six days, we are planning for two live Q&A Dialogue Sessions (27 March and 10 April), during which representatives of our Member Organizations have been invited to join, discuss and ask questions.

Dr Donald Li and Professor Shabir Moosa explain the rationale of this decision in these videos. We invite you all to watch these videos and carefully read the key procedural points that we have prepared for you. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions at the email address that we have activated specifically for this meeting: [email protected].

2. Membership Portal
We are setting up a new membership portal, which will help us get in touch with individual and organisational members. This will roll out in a stepwise manner throughout the year; Member Organizations have already received an invitation to join the platform from our Secretariat, and soon Direct Members will be able to access it too. We do welcome your comments and ideas.

3. Data Protection and Privacy Policy
Moreover, we are working on adapting our processes according to relevant data protection regulations. We are updating our privacy policy, which will soon be available on our website. We will introduce a Data Protection Officer, who will take office in April.

Finally, before closing for this month, I would like to encourage you all to follow our social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 

All of us in the Secretariat are looking forward to engaging and working closer with all the members of the WONCA community.

Dr Harris Lygidakis