From the President: WONCA Changes

Change is inevitable and evokes both anxiety and hope. Uncertainty about the eventual outcome of change induces anxiety. Anticipation that change may improve on the status quo inspires hope.

Several major changes are underway for WONCA that are the result of careful planning and will create a new WONCA. The first of these changes you are experiencing at this moment – the new WONCA website. While we will retain the familiar (GFD) address, virtually every other aspect of the new website will be different.

The format, ease of use, and capabilities are going to be better. Over the following months, as new functions are added, family doctors around the world will find it easier and more compelling to use GFD as their portal to global Family Medicine. 

You will be updated on these improvements by our new WONCA Editor, Dr Karen Flegg. As WONCA leadership reflected on the importance of and advances in electronic communication, we decided that WONCA needed to change how we communicate and create the position of Editor. We felt that the position demanded someone of extraordinary ability to oversee and coordinate all of our communications. Karen is that someone. Her success, innovations, and energetic leadership as editor of WONCA News over the past two years made her the obvious choice for this vital and expanded new role.

A third major change is a new CEO. When Dr Alfred Loh announced to the 2010 World Council in Cancun that he intended to retire during the next triennium, many of us felt acute anxiety over the departure of a trusted leader and good friend. Alfred, Yvonne, and Gillian have been the welcoming face and working hands of WONCA, since 2001. They will be missed. Indeed, they will be irreplaceable.

Yet, the CEO Search Committee and Executive were heartened by the many talented individuals from numerous countries who believed enough in WONCA to apply for the job. After a thorough vetting, the Executive offered the position of WONCA CEO to Dr Garth Manning. His approachable style, diplomacy skills, international and leadership experience, and proven ability to build robust programs give us hope that he will help lead WONCA toward an even more successful and prosperous future. Garth will officially take on his new duties later this year in October. You will learn more about Garth when he is profiled in future months.

I believe that these three significant changes will take WONCA to a new level and demonstrate our capacity to effectively address changing times and needs. While change is inevitable, anxiety and hope are optional. We can choose either emotion. When it comes to WONCA, I highly recommend hope. 

Professor Richard Roberts
World Organization of Family Doctors