From the President: August 2018


We all need to thank each other this month – which is the start of a new financial and academic year for some, a well-earned holiday period for others, and a really really busy time for the WONCA leadership and Secretariat as we run towards the Seoul conference and the WHO meeting in Astana.

Although there are no regional meetings in these four months, we have had a deluge of requests from WHO for various types of inputs and assistance. This includes the final consultation stage of the draft Declaration for Astana, which had less than a two week response period, and proved difficult to manage as it went out very widely and allowed individual responses. However, as WONCA we did make a formal reply on behalf of our organisation, and the debate will no doubt continue – you can read more in my policy bite.

Other news - WONCA’s two year cycle between World Council meetings brings forthcoming elections, and launches a new period for regional and working party / special interest group (WPs and SIGs) prioritisation. We have a strong field of candidates for the 2018-2020 WONCA Executive elections, and are encouraged to see a good mix across the regions and from both sexes. We hope to see the outputs of the WPs and SIGs, and to celebrate their activities at Seoul. Executive have also been reviewing what helps the WPs and SIGs to have an effective profile for the members, and I welcome your views on what you most value or want.

On the external front, most countries continue to struggle with a mismatch of need and resource.

We had two interesting workshops at our UK annual academic conference of the Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC) – one on what should be taught at medical school through family doctors, and another on strengthening academic capacity for our specialty. The SAPC links both with our UK professional member organisation and with bodies such as the North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG), and it was good to see how such professional leadership can make a difference to the overall profile and impact of the specialty. It was also clear from the younger doctors and students in the meeting that the quality of their experience in family medicine placements had a big influence on their future choice of career. So getting students into your clinic, but also making sure they have a positive learning experience there, is worth spending some of your precious time and energy to achieve – they may come back! But the fight for the right resources and support for our workforce remains the watchword.

Finally, a nice note from one of my patients – who, because of my national and international commitments, I do not see quite as often as she would like! She said, “Oh it’s OK Dr Howe, because the others do a really great job when you aren’t here – though I like to see you best!” The obvious answer was – “well that’s good to know – but why?” She looked surprised to be asked – then said – “…. It’s something about feeling you really listen – like, as a person as well as a doctor…”

We all need that in our lives. Thanks to the colleagues, staff, friends, family and patients who listen and respond to us as people as well as professionals. Together we can make a difference.

Amanda Howe