Our new President - Dr Donald Li

Dr Donald Li, a Hong Kong-Chinese family doctor, has taken over the reins as President of WONCA.

In addition to his work as a busy family doctor, Dr Li is involved in national and international policy making; he was the first family doctor elected as the President of the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine between 2012 – 2016; and he is Chair of a church-led welfare council in Hong Kong offering a wide range of social services to the elderly, youth centres, and childcare centres. Until recently he was Steward of the Jockey Club in Hong Kong, a large philanthropic organisation. He is also Director of the St John Ambulance Association in Hong Kong and helps to steer the training programme for the organisation. Those of you who follow him on Facebook or Twitter will already know that he is a foodie who loves to cook and who enjoys tracking down good local restaurants when he is travelling.

In taking on the presidency of WONCA, Dr Li has committed himself to working to grow understanding of the crucial contribution of family medicine to achieving Universal Health Coverage. He has a strong respect for the past and an equally strong ambition for the future of WONCA. ‘WONCA has an impressive history of advocacy and professionalism in primary care. This is an important time for family doctors to influence global policy to ensure comprehensive, integrated primary care is available to every person. Family medicine, delivered by professionally qualified primary care teams, will deliver that. It is more important than ever that the voice of family doctors is part of the global discussion and is central to the implementation process’

As President-Elect Dr Li helped to spearhead the WONCA accreditation system, for both academic programmes and for family medicine practices. These programmes offer academic departments and clinical practices an opportunity to achieve global endorsement.

Photo: Donald Li wearing the chain of office at the presidential handover from Amanda Howe.

Dr Li’s interest in artificial intelligence (AI) and ehealth reflect the innovations possible in family medicine. ‘AI will never replace the human doctor, sitting face to face with a patient, offering integrated comprehensive primary care services. But it is important that, as family doctors, we are open to exploring the possibilities the new technology offers.’

He is also actively interested in and involved with disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness response and, linking the work of a number of WONCA Working Parties (WPs) and Special Interest Groups (SIGs), plans to extend the role of WONCA in supporting this important issue globally.

The family doctor with big ambitions for WONCA recognises that change happens through influence and evidence. WONCA WPs and SIGs are working to provide the evidence of the incontrovertible benefits of providing patient-centred comprehensive primary care. With their evidence, and other reliable sources of data, ‘we will use our influence with policy makers at the highest levels in individual countries and globally, to achieve a world with a family doctor and primary care team available to everyone’.

An article providing a much fuller description of Dr Li’s many professional activities can be accessed in an earlier WONCA News article