From the President: December 2023

December, 2023

From the President: reporting on the three Gs.

The recent World conference in Sydney was a much welcome opportunity to spend time in person with many WONCA friends. November WONCA News was a lovely tribute to the event and the camaraderie. Still prominent in my mind are the three words summing up what I want to achieve in the coming two years: Governance, Greening and Growth. An update on each follows:


Introducing the Chairs of Standing committees

WONCA has a new Executive Committee and I look forward to working with them. We have met in Sydney and again by zoom, for induction and short meetings where we have made decisions on who will lead our WONCA Standing Committees in 2024 and 2025.

• Dr Steve Mowle (UK) is our new Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee
• Adj Prof Karen Price (Australia) is the new chair of the Bylaws and Governance Committee
• Dr Victor Ng (Canada) is to chair the Membership Committee
• Dr Jane Namatovou (Uganda) will take over as Organizational Equity Committee chair.
• Assoc Prof Viviana Martinez- Bianchi (USA/Argentina), as our new President-elect will chair the Nominations and Awards committee.

See lists of all members of Standing Committees here

The Standing Committees carry on important work on behalf of Council between world conferences, and are a key part of the governance structure of our organization. I express my gratitude to those who have agreed to serve WONCA in this manner.

Taskforce on Membership and Voting

Those of you who were at WONCA Council in Sydney will know that we have a new Taskforce on Membership and Voting, to be chaired by Canadian colleague, Dr Francine Lemire. The Taskforce is to consider issues relating to Membership and Voting, including relating to countries with more than one WONCA Member Organization. I anticipate that many of you will be consulted as we want input from many different groups of stakeholders. The final report of the Taskforce will be presented to the WONCA 2025 World Council, in Lisbon.


Realisation of a dream” at COP28

As I write, there is news from COP28 in Dubai: “COP28 Presidency joined with the World Health Organization to announce a new ‘COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health’ (the Declaration) to accelerate actions to protect people’s health from growing climate impacts… Signed by 124 countries, the Declaration… marks a world first in acknowledging the need for governments to protect communities and prepare healthcare systems to cope with climate-related health impacts such as extreme heat, air pollution and infectious diseases.” Source COP28 Media hub

The declaration calls for climate action to achieve “benefits for health from deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, including from just transitions, lower air pollution, active mobility, and shifts to sustainable healthy diets.”

Dr Maria Neira, who was a keynote speaker at our WONCA Sydney conference, and who is Director of the WHO’s Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health is quoted as saying “This is the realization of a dream for which the global health community has been fighting for years… The climate crisis is a health crisis.”

Photo: Dr Maria Neira fronts the press at WONCA Sydney 2023

However, the health declaration does not mention fossil fuels: our Working Party on Planetary Health has led a Call to Secure a Just & Equitable Transition to Sustainable Energy and Safeguard Health to end the proliferation of fossil fuels. I encourage you all to sign this petition if you have not done so already.   Download the WONCA Call to Secure a Just & Equitable Transition to Sustainable Energy & Safeguard Health.



The Gregorian calendar year of 2023 is coming to a close and we look forward to 2024.
For WONCA, 2024 brings six regional conferences and a world rural conference. Plenty of opportunity for everyone to again experience the joy of a WONCA conference, so start planning. If you missed Sydney then there is an event close to you in 2024. As your new President, I will be hoping to spend time in all regions over the next two years.


Universal Health Coverage (UHC) day was held on December 12. Growth is desperately needed to achieve UHC. WHO says that the world is off track to make significant progress towards universal health coverage by 2030 (Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target 3.8). This pattern is global - consistent across all regions and the majority of countries.

UHC targets measure the ability of countries to ensure that everyone receives the health care they need, when and where they need it, without facing financial hardship. It covers the full continuum of key services from health promotion to prevention, protection, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.

Don’t be fooled – even in countries where Universal Health Coverage seems to exist it may not be as “universal” as you presume. I am sure most of us don’t need to think for long to realise UHC is deficient in our own countries. I think of workforce shortages, inadequate funding and many people who cannot get the care they need when they need it in my health system.

It doesn’t matter where we are in the world to achieve UHC requires growth in advocacy for strengthening primary care services, resources and funding including of family medicine / general practice. UHC matters. Universal health coverage (UHC) (

I take this opportunity to wish you and your families good wishes for the festive and holiday season that many of us enjoy at this time of year. I am sure we all hope and pray for a peaceful 2024.

Assoc Prof Karen Flegg
WONCA President