From the President: February 2021

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With the global pandemic still all around us, we were unable to hold our Council and conference in Abu Dhabi last year. Arrangements are well underway, in the hope that we can hold the conference in November this year. But we will have to wait and make an assessment on the safety and feasibility of meeting face to face closer to the time.

As all of us have adapted to different ways of working since the onset of the pandemic, we are increasingly dependent on technology which enables us to keep in touch with family, friends and colleagues. Nothing makes up for face to face contact but we use the technology available to maintain our connections.

WONCA’s Bylaws normally enable us to undertake with the work of our organization within a structure of good governance. But most of our Bylaws were written and updated, with terminology defined, in times when travel was straightforward and when regular face to face meetings were the norm. How things have changed!

Because of our inability to meet in person at Council last year, we now need to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting of Council (EGM), in order to make changes which will allow us to proceed with our work.

By the time of publication of this WONCA News, all of our Member Organisations will have been notified about the upcoming online EGM, in May 2021. The platform for the EGM will be open from 11th -16th May, to allow for those from different time zones, and with a wide range of work commitments, to participate. Please note that there is no live session during the EGM. By logging in to the EGM platform, attendance of the MO is registered and gives access to consulting the material. Also, by the time of issuing of this WONCA News, everyone will have access to a video link explaining changes to the Bylaws which are needed, to facilitate continuation of our work.

Two live Q&A sessions will also be held prior to the EGM, on Saturday 27th March (for those in ‘eastern’ times zones) and Saturday 10th April (for those in ‘western’ time zones). Shabir Moosa, Chair of Bylaws Committee, and I will chair those live sessions and we welcome questions from our members.

I urge all of our Member Organisations to take the opportunity to participate in the process, which we are undertaking in response to global circumstances and, incidentally, as an opportunity to update our communication mechanisms using more advanced technology than was available at the time of the writing of our original Bylaws.

Further information about the technical issues which warrant the meetings and EGM are described elsewhere in WONCA news.

And finally … a thank you and a welcome! Each month, articles from WONCA News are translated into Spanish, French and Mandarin, to facilitate better access to our members from different language groups. Since the beginning of my Presidency, Ella Lee has kindly translated my articles and messages into Mandarin, for the benefit of our many Chinese members. I want to thank Ella for her skill and efficiency in giving that support. From this edition of WONCA News onwards, the Cross Straits Medical Association has offered to undertake the Mandarin translation. I would like to thank them for their offer and welcome their involvement in this work.

Donald Li,