From the President; April 2017

Photo: Amanda Howe and Donald Li with colleagues from the Hong Kong College of Family Physicians.

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Good and bad times

I am writing this column in Amsterdam airport, where my last flight of what has already been a 22 hour day is now delayed. Fortunately I have the memories of a very impressive conference in China to cheer me up.

Photo: Amanda Howe exchanging gifts at right with Prof Zhu Shanzhu, Chairman of Cross Straits Medical Exchange General Practice Society, a new WONCA Member Organization

I have just attended the Cross Straits member organisation meeting in Xiamen, which had more than 2000 delegates and attracted a number of ministerial level keynote speakers.

Our President Elect Donald Li has supported colleagues across the region to grow both their organisation and the presence of family medicine in China, and the government health reforms have put a major focus on our discipline. Initiatives to upskill GP, recruit more young doctors into general practice, and number of other initiatives are trying to fill the gap between their aspirations for the country and the relative lack of trained family doctors. It was exciting to see the numbers attending, the enthusiasm, and the critical debate occurring - also to see a full programme of talks and posters being submitted.

Photo right: Amanda presenting the Donald Li scholarship -  Donald at right established this to enable family doctors to come to Hong Kong for training.

Two weeks ago I was at our Eastern Mediterranean regional meeting in Abu Dhabi, which will also host the global conference in 2020. This was also a wonderful meeting, with delegates from across the region and outside, a lively Council meeting chaired by our President Dr Mohamed Tarawneh, and some really interesting panels on both professional and clinical issues.

Well done to all involved.

Photo above: Amanda Howe with Sheikh Nahyan AlNahyan minister of culture at WONCA EMR 2017 opening ceremony. WONCA past Presidents, Kidd, Roberts and van Weel are at far right.

Photo left: Amanda in Rio with EMR colleagues

We have our first executive since Rio in London in two weeks time, being held at the Royal College of General Practitioners. I look forward to seeing all the colleagues who work so hard on behalf of WONCA there, and intend it to be an interesting and supportive meeting. We shall discuss workforce issues, and policies to be taken forward with WHO and other groups, as well as looking at new and potential members and member engagement.

As part of the preparation for that meeting, I have enjoyed reviewing the plans of our Working Parties and Special Interest Groups for the next two years, and encourage members to think about whether their own special interest overlap with any of our groups – if so please get in touch with the Chairs and join the debates and opportunities. I myself really got engaged with WONCA through becoming a Working Party member, and it changed the direction of my own career – it is such a great way of meeting colleagues from across the world!

I am glad when I see family doctors thriving and being inspired, especially when WONCA is helping them to a more satisfying career, but of course it is not all good news. Even when we have won an argument to develop family medicine in a country, there are always challenges in implementation and in keeping the momentum going. For those working in conflict zones and unstable political environments, we think of you and your patients, and wish for a more peaceful world. And for all dealing with the suffering of humanity on a day to day basis, I congratulate you in your work. I guess being stuck in an airport is not the worst thing that can happen in a lifetime! Go well and take care of yourselves as well as others.

Amanda Howe
WONCA President