From the President: Repeating the Three Gs

WONCA Newsletter  

This month I repeat my favourite three words: Governance, Greening, and Growth - three words summing up what I want to achieve in my time as WONCA President.

Governance news – WONCA Executive meeting

In early May, your current WONCA Executive Committee will have had its first two-day face-to-face meeting since we commenced our roles in late October 2023. With only a short half-day meeting in Sydney and zoom meetings since, this much-anticipated meeting is being held in Colombo, Sri Lanka following the WONCA South Asia Region conference. Our agenda is full and includes items that provide accountability as well as more strategic and future-focused exercises.

WONCA executive 2023 -25 announced in Sydney, October 2023

Reports from our region presidents and statutory committee chairs will be received. The CEO, Harris Lygidakis, will be updating us on progress against our strategic plan objectives. We will have a workshop on our WHO work run by our WHO liaison persons - Anna Stavdal and Maria Pilar Astier Peña. Our treasurer, Steve Mowle, and our CEO will guide us through the financial statements and future budget.

Our Organisational Equity committee has suggested that all regions establish regional equity committees. As such, we will be having a workshop on equity run by the chair of that committee, Jane Namatovou, and our president elect, Viviana Martinez-Bianchi, who is well known for her equity leadership.

It will be a busy but hopefully enjoyable and collaborative two days and we will be able to report any significant outcomes to the short Council meeting that we will be having on June 25th.

Greening News – Healthy planet Healthy People

Last month I wrote about World Family Doctor Day (WFDD) which is coming on May 19. It is our day to celebrate the important work we do and this year the theme is “Healthy Planet, healthy people”. So we should consider what we can do to reduce the carbon footprint of our homes, our clinics, our communities, and in our consultations.

Family doctors can make a real difference by adopting environmentally friendly practices in our clinics and guiding patients on how to protect their own health while also caring for the planet. I really like Enrique Barros’ idea of making a difference with “one minute for the planet”. Enrique from Brazil and past Chair of our Working Party on Planetary Health gave an example in my previous column.

This will be the 14th year that we have run the WFDD campaign. Each year I have looked forward to hearing the innovative and exciting ideas and activities that colleagues all around the world enjoy for this celebration. This year is the first time we consider what we can do for our planet and our patients. I will be eagerly awaiting the stories and photos that I associate with World Family Doctor Day.

Growth news – Working Parties’ and Special Interest Groups’ activities

I have been lucky to have a sneak preview of the annual report of 2023 activities. What has amazed me is the range of activities that our WONCA Working Parties and Special Interest groups (WONCA groups) undertake and the phenomenal creativity and industry reported for 2023.

I give a few examples only of the work of WONCA Groups because I would like you to read the WONCA annual report which will be available next month and enjoy the reports of all groups.

Our WONCA groups have run many webinars on a variety of topics; presented workshops and papers at WONCA conferences; and many other initiatives.

Education Book CoverThe WP on Mental Health has taken on a major and long-term education and training project (MDD minds project) – watch WONCA News for regular updates. The Working Parties on eHealth, Women in Family Medicine, Ethics, Quality and Safety, Rural Practice, and International Classification and some Special Interest Groups have represented family doctors at WHO events.

Relevant to Family Doctor Day is the new Sustainable Events Policy that can help us hold greener WONCA Conferences. The Working Party on planetary health also developed a 2022 statement on metered aerosol inhalers to help in reducing our prescribing carbon footprint.

One of the most durable activities of WONCA groups are books.

The Working Party on Education released “Family Medicine in the Undergraduate Curriculum: Preparing medical students to work in evolving healthcare systems”. The editors were Val Wass and Victor Ng.

Anxiety and Depression Book CoverThe Working Party on Research combined with the Working Party on Mental Health to produce “Anxiety and Depression in Primary Care: International Perspectives” edited by Sherina Mohd Sidik and Felicity Goodyear-Smith.

These are not just books for people in Europe or in high-income countries. Both of them include authors from multiple countries with a different situation in each country. Something for everyone!

They are part of a WONCA series with more information on all titles here.

RMEG Cover One previous book that remains popular is available to download online free of charge is the second edition of the “Rural Medical Education Guidebook” edited by Bruce Chater, chair of the Working Party on Rural Practice. This 2021 version is a massive 860 pages and it remains a useful reference for those who are starting on the journey of setting up a rural medical education programme for the first time. Download it here.

Enjoy World Family Doctor Day and perhaps consider joining a WONCA group!

Karen Flegg

Assoc Prof Karen Flegg
WONCA President