From the President: July 2021

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In 2010 when we celebrated our first World Family Doctor Day we really did not realise how much the idea would resonate with our WONCA family around the world. Member Organisations and family medicine groups in many nations took the opportunity to reflect on the work of the family doctor and the primary care team who deliver quality care in communities. Some countries embraced the idea more than others or quicker than others – and provided colourful and uplifting photographs and posters for the rest of us. The enthusiasm for World Family Doctor Day has grown year on year – and this year’s WFFD has surpassed all the rest! It may be because all of us, doctors, teams and patients, are so weary of the pandemic; it may be because celebrations have been in short supply lately; it may be because we are so proud of how we and our colleagues have stepped up to the challenges of the pandemic; and it may be because there is a renewed sense of being part of a team, delivering the best possible primary care. Whatever the reason, this year’s engagement with WFDD has been fantastic. We have heard many stories and have seen many pictures of how people celebrated our profession and our work. As many as we can fit are presented in our latest WONCA News, so please read and enjoy. And maybe get inspired for activities for WFDD next year!

One of the big things we understand from the celebrations around WFDD is just how proud and pleased we should be to be part of our profession. That profession, which is rooted in our communities, trusted by our patients, providing care to our patients from birth through the whole life course, is the cornerstone of health systems. In some countries it is not recognised appropriately or integrated appropriately into the rest of the hospital-focused health system: those are the countries we need to support, to help them understand the health gains from access to quality co-ordinated comprehensive primary care. 

The goal of Universal Health Coverage is global: it is not selective. It is not intended just for high income countries or for low income countries but for all countries. It is not intended just for the global north or the global south. The Sustainable Development Goals which support UHC are already six years old, with a target date for achievement of 2030. If the goal of Universal Health Coverage is to be met for all of us, then all of us must take our part in making the achievement of that goal real. Our professional colleagues who are involved in the delivery of care, those involved in the planning of health services, those responsible for health care financing arrangements, development partners and national governments all have crucial roles to play. 

Significant investment is needed to establish and to improve primary care systems across the world. Piecemeal development will not achieve the goal, especially when it is not supported by professional development of primary care team members. We need a quantum shift in emphasis towards creating the platform for delivering comprehensive primary care for everyone. We, as family doctors, must use our collective and individual voices to persuade, to convince, to influence and to show the way. The evidence is now widely available that health systems based on strong primary care are the most clinically effective and cost effective mechanism to improve the health of our populations, allowing them to be more productive.

I look forward to many future World Family Doctor Days. But the one I look forward to most of all is the one which celebrates the achievement of Universal Health Coverage. Imagine what a celebration we would have for that!