Report on 12th World Rural Health Conference, Gramado, Brazil

WONCA World Rural Health Conferences are always exciting and enjoyable events. We have the opportunity to meet as one large Rural Global Family once a year. Despite the many contextual differences that the word ‘rural’ describes across the world, there is so much more that binds us all together, than separates us.

I am just back from the very successful and enjoyable 12th World Rural Health Conference in Gramado, Brazil. I must start by congratulating Leonardo Targa and his team for putting on one of the best conferences to date. It was an inspiring event and just right to celebrate WONCA's first conference in South America.

 Photo: fun in Gramado

It was my first visit to South America and the first time for many of the international delegates who attended. We were all amazed by the beauty, cultural diversity and energy that we came across. Brazil is frantically preparing for the World Cup and I hope that the many football fans that who travel there in the next few months will receive the same warm reception.

The WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice (WWPRP) met prior to the conference and we were privileged to have the President Elect of WONCA, Amanda Howe join us. We have set ourselves an arduous workload before we meet again in Dubrovnik next year.

The WWPRP is total committed to equity and diversity (gender, age, geography and race) in its membership and we believe that by achieving these goals we can extend the working party’s global influence and impact on rural health around the world. Other commitments include involvement in the WHO post 2015 debate on universal health coverage; an initiative on "Rural Proofing for Health"; developing an on-line WONCA rural resource; a joint statement on the impact of environmental challenges and climate change with the WONCA Working Party on the Environment; a review of our previous documents and initiatives; and much more!

As with so many conferences, it was over too soon. I agree with many of my colleagues that the excellent organisation from Juliana Rupp of Oceano Eventos, ensured that it was relaxed and provided an environment conducive to learning, debate and discussion.

The next WONCA World Conference will be in Rio de Janerio from November 2-5, 2016, if its anything like Gramado, you cant miss it! So put it in your diaries now.

One of the conference highlights was the launch of our Rural Medical Education Guidebook. This is one of our most important initiatives to date. A huge undertaking and congratulations to the editorial team (especially Janet Giddy, Penny Morrell and Bruce Chater) .

Plans are being drawn up to translate it into Portuguese and we are keen to translate it into Spanish as well.

I would also like to congratulate Bruce Chater, the recipient of the first ever "WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice Award for Outstanding Service to Rural Practice". His contribution has been immense over the years and I am sure that the much of the success of the WWPRP is down to his outstanding and loyal contribution. Please take a look at the citation. Well done Bruce!

Pictured is Bruce (Centre) with from (l to r) Dr Leonardo Targa, Dr John Wynn-Jones (chair WWPRP), Prof Amanda Howe (WONCA President Elect), and Mrs Anne Chater

Congratulations also to Professor Roger Strasser who gave the annual John Macleod Oration entitled “Improving the health of rural people through health workforce policies”. More on this in the future! 

Roger is pictured at right with Leonardo Targa (left) and John Wynn-Jones (right)

I enclose a link to WONCA President, Michael Kidd's inspiring keynote address at Gramado. It was wonderful to have both the President and the President elect of WONCA attend the conference. Thanks to you both for your support.

We as a working party need your help and your support even more over the next 12 months before we meet in Dubrovnik in April 15-18, 2015, for the 13th WONCA World Rural Health Conference. (Put it in your diaries now!)

Finally, please promote the WWPRP wherever you go and whoever you talk to. Please send me email addresses that I can add them to the Google group. [email protected]

Wishing you all the best for the forthcoming year and see you in Dubrovnik

John Wynn-Jones
Chair WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice