From the President: March 2018

Photo: Amanda Howe at the Vasco da Gama forum in Porto with (l to r) Candan Kendir, Süheyla Atalay, Tuğba Onat.

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First – working with WHO.

Dr Viviana Martinez Bianchi and I attended the WHO Executive Board in Geneva, and found that the fortieth anniversary of the Alma Ata Declaration, in October 2018, has become a big focus, with expectation of a major declaration to be signed off at a meeting in Almaty meeting in late October. The focus on strengthening primary health care, for universal health coverage, makes this an important opportunity for us to get our messages about family medicine across. We were told that WONCA is likely to be invited to be involved in the Almaty meeting, and also to have input into a number of activities leading up to the event. This is a tribute to our increased recognition, but there is much yet to clarify. We shall need all our Member Organizations and region presidents to engage at country level to make country representatives at WHO more committed to supporting family medicine in the next phase of workforce development. I have been in touch with our Member Organizations by personal newsletter both about this issue and about preparations for World Family Doctor Day 2018. Please see the Policy Bite as well!

The European young doctors’ forum

I was then at the Vasco da Gama Movement (European young doctors) forum in Porto together with our current and previous WONCA Europe Presidents. This excellent meeting, which attracted more than 300 attendees (including from the Middle East and Asia regions, was led in part by our own global young doctor leader, Dr Ana Nunes Barata, as well as many others from the Vasco da Gama Council, and the local host and scientific committee members. It was a really enjoyable meeting, and it gave me great pleasure to see how effective the networks across regions among the young doctors can be. Well done to Claire Thomas for her leadership of the current Vasco da Gama Council, to Ana, and to all involved.

Read Forum report here

Ariadnelabs project

I am also deeply immersed in the development and delivery of the project for which we won funding from Ariadnelabs. This project aims to identify research priorities from primary care for low and middle income countries, and I would like to recognise the hard work that our Chair of the Working Party on Research, Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith, is putting into leading this work – also with our past Presidents, Prof Michael Kidd and Chris van Weel, and colleagues from the Robert Graham Center in the USA. We hope that this will be another route by which WONCA both gathers evidence for advocacy, and also becomes more visible as an academic voice in relevant global networks.

Future activities

I have upcoming trips to Algeria, and then Kuwait for the WONCA East Mediterranean region congress, then to the IberoAmericana region summit and conference in Columbia.

Momentum is also gathering for our conferences in Delhi (WONCA World rural health conference organised by our Working Party on Rural Practice), WONCA Europe in Krakow, and the WONCA World conference, in Seoul. The Winter Olympics are happening as I write, and it is good to see the beauty, efficiency, and inclusivity of South Korea making an impact worldwide. Things are going well with all organisation for our Seoul conference - with good programmes and registration. We thank those who are leading there. We also wish all those having national family medicine meetings and conferences a good success.

Meeting together across our global community is a really important means of sharing good practice, encouraging mutual support and professional development, and creating and maintaining formal policy and processes. I do hope that as many people as possible will attend at least one WONCA conference this year, and that we particularly succeed in gathering our global community together in South Korea, in October. It is not too late to register, and I am increasingly confident that this is going to be a brilliant conference.

Best wishes to you and your colleagues and communities, and I shall be with you again next month.
Amanda Howe
WONCA President