Raman Kumar's young doctors' update

Photo: (left to right) - Scott MacLean, Raman Kumar, Peter Sloane, Kyle Hoedebecke, Victor Ng and Kayode Alao at the preconference in Lisbon

WONCA Executive member (Young Doctor representative), Dr Raman Kumar, of India, attended the WONCA Europe Conference held in Lisbon in July 2014. He reports on activities from the Young Doctor perspective.
The 19th WONCA Family Medicine European Conference was organized from 2nd to 5th July 2014 in the city of Lisbon Portugal. There was a pre conference on 1st and 2nd July 2014; organized by Vasco da Gama Movement – VGDM (the forum for young, establishing, new and future family doctors in Europe). The conference also marked the 10th anniversary of VGDM. Being the representative of young doctor movements on WONCA world executive, I was invited by VGDM chair Harris Lygidakis. My participation was facilitated by a generous grant from WONCA Europe.

At preconference, I attended the VGDM inauguration ceremony, council meeting, group presentations and the anniversary book release. I feel privileged to be part of this historical moment of the 10th anniversary of VGDM. During the council meeting I witnessed the robust governance process of VGDM as an organization and saw the seamless transfer of leadership. It was an excellent display of energy, enthusiasm, leadership, teamwork and professionalism. Peter A Sloane (Ireland) took over from Harris Lygidakis (Italy) as chair of Vasco da Gama. During the preconference and at the social get-together I had opportunity to meet and interact with almost all representatives from different European countries. I took effort and time to meet and talk to each member on the new executive of VGDM.

The conference opened on 2nd July 2014 with a very impressive inaugural ceremony. The scientific program offered a wide spectrum of education and learning opportunity. I attended sessions of my interest such as prevention, research and education. I was one of the co authors for an accepted poster: FM 360 – Global Exchange Program with Ana Nunes Barata and others.

All arrangements were planned in detail and successfully carried out by our Portuguese hosts lead by pre conference manager Catarina Matias. During the conference, the chairs of other regional young doctor movements had opportunity to meet. Kyle Hoedebecke (Polaris – North America) Alao Kayode (AFRIWON - Africa), Peter Sloane (VGDM- Europe) and myself (Spice Route – South Asia) were present and all of us met in person for the first time. The meeting was very productive as we discussed few key points of action in future.

We organized a meeting to discuss FM 360, global exchange program for family medicine trainees and residents. This meeting was led by Ana Nunes Barata and was participated by Prof Job Metsemakers (president WONCA Europe), Prof Richard Roberts (past president WONCA world) along with several other young enthusiastic delegates. During the conference, I also had opportunity to briefly meet Dr João Sequeira Carlos, Dr Carl Steylaerts and Dr Per Kallestrup. inspiring figures who, were founders and first generation leaders of junior doctor movements.

It was good to see how the two leading colleges in world, CFPC Canada (College of Family Physicians of Canada) and RCGP UK (Royal College of General Practitioners), are supporting their newly qualified or establishing members through innovative forums such as CFPC First Five Years, RCGP First 5 and RCGP JIC. It was pleasant meeting Scot MacLean, Victor Ng, Greg Irving, and Robin Ramsay.

The conference broadened my understanding about historical background of development of universal health coverage in many parts of Europe. Earlier my knowledge was limited to NHS in UK. I also came to know about the diversity existing among several of the European health systems. Also, how the present economic crisis is impacting the health systems in Europe. Lisbon declaration is one of the important achievements of this conference. From personal perspective I found this information very useful, since back in India, we are discussing about provision of universal health coverage for a huge population.

I attended the WONCA world executive meeting on 2nd July; part of the executive was available in person while others participated remotely from different parts of the world with the help of video conferencing.
Overall, my experience during the conference was very enriching and I returned back as a more energized person.

Acknowledgement: I would like to convey my sincere thanks to Prof Job Metsemakers and WONCA Europe for arranging special bursary, enabling my participation in WONCA Europe Conference Lisbon 2014.

Dr Raman Kumar