From the Headquarters: October 2021

This October we have a much to celebrate and look forward to.

The WONCA World Abu Dhabi Conference – which will be held virtually this year – is just over a month away. The programme has now been announced and includes many exciting plenaries covering such key topics as the role of family doctors in the face of conflicts & natural disasters, planetary health, artificial intelligence & digital health, and human resources in primary care. The rich schedule also includes expert sessions and presentations, as well as workshops and contributions from our Working Parties and Special Interest Groups. It has been a long time since our global community last assembled due to the challenging circumstances of the past 18 months, including the imposed travel restrictions, so we welcome this opportunity to gather once again even if only virtually.

A few days before the start of the Conference, the Meeting of the Council will take place (19-21 November). This is the first ordinary meeting that WONCA will hold virtually. While we are looking forward to the opportunity to meet, we acknowledge that this has presented some challenges from a logistical point of view, for which we ask for the understanding of all Representatives and participants. We appreciate that the selected time of 10am-3pm UTC will not be the most accessible for all. It will mean colleagues in Lima will be joining us at 5am local time and those in California at 2am, whilst on the other hemisphere those in Auckland will be signing in at 11pm and concluding each day’s session at 4am. 

Of course, we are aware and sympathetic that this is far from ideal for a number of our esteemed members, but unfortunately it just isn’t possible to identify a time slot which is workable for all participants across such varied time zones. We do hope that it is clear we have made our best efforts to compensate for this  – for example by concentrating all agenda items down from the usual six-eight hours to just four-five hours per day in the virtual space. In addition, the Secretariat is working on the organisation of the Meeting to ensure accessibility and good conduct. We offer our gratitude to all in advance for your flexibility and understanding. 

Finally, we are delighted to share that by the time this newsletter goes out, the WONCA Annual Report will also have been published. I believe all members of our community will feel proud when taking in the more than 150 pages detailing the year’s activities, encompassing the work of our Executive and the Committees, the efforts of our Regions, Working Parties and Special Interest Groups, and the successful World Family Doctor Day. Furthermore, it’s astonishing to look at the “WONCA at a glance” maps and appreciate the truly global representation of our Organization, and the work that takes place to improve the health and quality of life for people all over the world. We are incredibly thankful for the contributions from everyone.

Harris Lygidakis,