From the editor : 10 years and 100 issues

This edition of WONCA News is the 100th edition that I have produced as WONCA editor.

To celebrate I share some of my favourite stories, favourite people, favourite photos. This I do, in anticipation of handing over the WONCA editorship at the end of 2020.

In May, it was also my 10 year anniversary as the editor having taken over from Dr Marc Rivo, at the 2010 World Council meeting held at the time of the world conference in Cancun, Mexico. I am now the second longest serving WONCA editor, after Dr David Game, our first editor, fellow Australian (and also a past president of WONCA), who I had the privilege to interview back in 2012.

For those with the time and interest there is a newsletter archive dating back to 2003 covering all of my issues and most of those produced by Mark Rivo. (The news used to be published as a paper document so not everything is available online!)
Newsletter archive

For those with less time and more interest in photos, I suggest you head to my favourite top 20 photos of individuals and top 20 photos of groups. My favourite 20 photos of individualsMy favourite 20 photos of groups


I have worked for two WONCA CEOs - the first was Alfred Loh (CEO: 2001-2012) ably supported by manager Yvonne Chung. Rich Roberts “Sweet Sorrow” article was his farewell to the Singapore secretariat.

The second and still current CEO I have worked for is Garth Manning (2012-2020). The photo shows Garth and Nongluck Suwisith, WONCA Manager, setting up the new Bangkok office.


I have served through the terms of four presidents (and read all of their columns) Rich Roberts, Michael Kidd, Amanda Howe, and Donald Li. All have had their own style, all have been and still are passionate about WONCA.

Rich Roberts (president from 2010-2013) was a great storyteller and visited many ordinary family doctors in their practices during his term as president. One story that I still remember is “View from Mountain” written for WONCA news in December 2010, about Doctor Abdujabor Kurbonov a rural doctor in the mountains of Tajikistan, and the rather unusual practice which Rich observed during his visit.

Michael Kidd, kept a blog of many of his speeches given while president of WONCA (2013-2016). Some were at WONCA world conferences and other  at WONCA member organisation events. See if he spoke at your conference here.

Amanda Howe, of course goes down in history as the first female WONCA president, and also the 1st president to serve a term of two years, with the change of WONCA conferences from triennial to biennial (2016-2018). Photo shows Amanda having just handed over the chain of office to Donald Li in Seoul 2018.

Donald Li (2018-current) will next month have his term of office extended by approximately one year, owing to the difficulty to hold a world Council meeting during the coronavirus pandemic this year. What Donald has brought to the president’s column is Chinese transaction, which is only one way that he has extended WONCA’s reach to many colleagues in China.


WONCA’s reach extends with the translation of articles into people’s native languages and over the last 10 years we have increased translation. During the presidency of Rich Roberts, the president’s column was translated into Spanish thanks to the assistance of our Spanish member organisation, semFYC. French was added during the time of Michael Kidd, and as noted Donald Li has added Chinese translation. There have been WONCA working party resources translated into Arabic and Portuguese in particular.


WONCA expansion

WONCA’s network of Working Parties (WPs) and Special Interest Groups (SIGs) has expanded at every world conference. We now have 11 active WPs and 16 SIGs.
See and join all WPs and SIGs here

Our groups increase the engagement of family doctors around the world in WONCA through their clinical interest areas. These WPs and SIGs have in turn, had a huge expansion in activities. Certainly the ones that were established 10 years ago such as the Working Parties on Rural Practice, Environment, Education and the WP on Research have gone from strength to strength, with mailing list for members, Google groups and more resulting in a huge expansion in their membership due to the dedication of their hard-working chairs and executive members. The WP on Rural Practice now holds their own WONCA Rural conference each year.

Some of the groups have produced significant publications with my two favourites probably being
- Family Doctors in the Field 2014 (WP on the Environment) to which I contributed a chapter.
- Rural Medical Education Guidebook - an enormous undertaking and highly utilised resource

How can I forget to mention the Young Doctors' Movement? Now they have a Young Doctors' Movement group in each WONCA region (there were only two regions with a group in 2010) and a representative on the WONCA Executive. The first group formed in 2005, was the Vasco da Gama Movement (VdGM) in Europe. in acknowledgement of this I include one of my favourite photos sent by the VdGM - 2013 a promotion for their Hippocrates Exchange.
WONCA has also strengthened its liaison with WHO … The 2013 WONCA executive appointed a WONCA WHO liaison person, in Luisa Pettigrew, who in turn, handed over to Viviana Martinez-Bianchi in 2016. Much work is also done on a regional level through WONCA region presidents and their executive committees.

Photo shows Donald Li in 2011, who always seemed to have the ear of Margaret Chan when he was WONCA APR president and President Elect.

A WONCA-WHO liaison page on the WONCA website was established back in 2012 which can be accessed at this link.

World Family Doctor day (FDD)

World Family Doctor Day (FDD) – 19th May - was first declared by WONCA in 2010 and was first celebrated in 2011 and it has become a day to highlight the role and contribution of family doctors in health care systems around the world. The event is a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge the central role of our specialty in the delivery of personal, comprehensive and continuing health care for all of our patients. It’s also a chance to celebrate the progress being made in family medicine and the special contributions of family doctors globally. The current logo pictured at right, was developed in 2015

Each year we are overwhelmed with reports of activities from all over the world and all past reports can be seen on this page. A favourite year of mine was the 2015 report with Michael Kidd delivering a video greeting and our featured country being Nepal.

See all World Family Doctor day reports here

Newsletter archive

If you are interested in history the newsletter archive can be accessed to see all newsletters in electronic format.

My first edition in August 2010 had news highlights:
- Richard Roberts takes over from Chris Van Weel as WONCA president, Michael Kidd elected president elect (pictured together).
- official recognition and ratification of the 7th WONCA region-the East Mediterranean region with inaugural president Prof Nabil Al Kurashi
- a unanimous vote of the World Council past bylaws to enhance gender equity in WONCA
- the Waynakay movement for young doctors in the IberoAmericana region was born with the name meaning “youth” in the Quechua language

My favourite photo taken in my first conference as WONCA editor (2010) is of Dr Sylvester Osinowo (Nigeria), who was then the president of WONCA Africa. Why? He just looks great against the red background!

See my 20 favourites of individuals and groups at the links below.

My favourite 20 photos of individualsMy favourite 20 photos of groups
I am still friends with colleagues who I met at the WONCA World conference in Ireland in 1998. As a great example of the fun and laughter to be had at WONCA conferences I’ve chosen this group photo of Val Wass (WP Education chair), Garth Manning (our CEO) and Allyn Walsh (Former WP Education chair) at the WONCA Europe conference in Istanbul in 2015.

Featured doctors

A small number of photos and a few words cannot begin to quantify the honour and privilege I have had meeting so many wonderful colleagues around the world both in person and virtually.

A small sample of these colleagues have been WONCA featured doctors. I have ‘interviewed’ and featured well-known WONCA leaders and WONCA office bearers. I have also ‘interviewed’ hard-working family doctors, some of whom I have not met but who crossed my virtual path - their stories all fascinated me and represent the wonderful diversity of our colleagues in family medicine. I could not select any one or even 20 individuals to single out so I recommend you choose your own to read.

Featured Doctors
The privilege of WONCA is in the people you meet. We are indeed lucky that means of electronic communication and meetings have advanced to the point where we can maintain contact with colleagues despite not being able to hold WONCA conferences at this point in time. Thank you to all my dear colleagues for the friendship and joy that you have provided me, in the form of your stories presented in the past 100 issues of WONCA News.

… And as for conferences, you’ll have to wait until my next reflection for these.

Karen Flegg
WONCA editor