President-elect: Thinking of WONCA 2023

During the last week of November I attended the annual conference of my own college - the Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP). Next year, the RACGP is honoured to be hosting the world conference of WONCA, in conjunction with our own conference. In some ways, this year’s conference felt like a trial run for our WONCA2023 event. 

 WONCA 2023 Important deadlines
Abstract submission now closing February 9, 2023
Bursary applications closing: February 10, 2023
Early Bird registration closing July 13, 2023
Conference website  

I’m pleased to report things ran very smoothly. As a participant, I did some of the same things that we all treasure about WONCA conferences: chat with eminent colleagues, and meet old and new friends from overseas.

As I walked back from my morning tea one day, I encountered Prof John Murtagh, perhaps our most famous Australian GP through being the author of “Murtagh’s General Practice”. Young doctors were starting to line up for photos with him. He is always so obliging and has an encouraging word for those who want photographs and autographs. Our hope is that we will see him in Sydney, next year.

Lucky to meet with Prof John Murtagh

Prof Michael Kidd also humoured me with a photograph, but in the WONCA 2023 conference frame with a kangaroo. Michael is one of our keynote speakers for the conference.

Prof Michael Kidd, WONCA Past President

At last week’s conference, I was also lucky enough to catch up with colleagues from the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners’ (RNZCGP), the Academy of Family Physicians of Malaysia (AFPM), and the Fiji College of GPs(FCGP).

NZ colleagues – Dr Kylie McQuellin (RNZCGP head of membership services), Dr Samantha Murton (RNZCGP President); Dr Kerryn Lum (RNZCGP Censor-in-Chief) and Lynne Hayman (RNZCGP CEO)

Malaysian colleagues - Dr Lee Cheng Yew (president AFPM) and WONCA Asia-Pacific region secretary, Dr “Kavi” Sailin.

Fijian colleague - Dr Shanita Sen(Vice president FCGP) and Prof Frank Jones (RACGP WONCA representative)

I have always treasured the social and learning interactions with international colleagues at WONCA conferences. Your Australian colleagues are starting to look forward to this as an opportunity for them next year.

One thing that will be quite different next year is the scientific program with our international presenters. Exchanging ideas with colleagues from overseas is one of those wonderful things of WONCA conferences. The themes of WONCA2023 are “Recovery, reconnection and revival. A celebration of primary care”.

We hope many of you submit abstracts and note the closing date has now extended until February 9, 2023.

Prof Mark Morgan is our Scientific Committee chair.

Mark’s messages for those considering abstract submission are:

• We hope WONCA2023 will challenge, enlighten and enthuse each person who attends, so we would like conference sessions to be as interactive as possible.
• The abstract submission process asks for a description of your presentation/session in up to 300 words. It also asks you to identify three learning objectives.
• We would be pleased to receive abstracts that use innovative presentation styles such as dance, poetry, song, narration, imbedded audio-visual content. More traditional formats such as illustrated talks, debates, discussion panels, research presentations will also be welcome.
• Our peer review process will assess each abstract looking for topics that are relevant to family doctors.

Mark reminds us that to allow for new and emerging research to be presented, there is a separate opportunity for research abstract submissions closer to the dates of WONCA23. We have called this subsequent opportunity ‘’late-breaking”. Abstracts of this type may be submitted from May 24 to June 8. Abstract submission information can be found here.

My Australian colleagues and I look forward to welcoming so many of you to my country and home town Sydney next year.

A/Prof Karen Flegg
WONCA President-elect