Rural round-up: New Year - New Horizons for Rural Practice

The WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice chair, Dr John Wynn-Jones summarises the activities of the working party and looks forward to this year's events.

It has been a busy 12 months for the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice (WWPRP). We are now halfway through our triennium programme and I believe that we are meeting the challenging targets that we set ourselves in Prague. I want to thank the members of the Working Party for all their hard work and support over the last 18 months.

Its true to say that our achievements and successes rest on the efforts of rural doctors and enthusiasts around the world working as a team to promote rural practice & rural health with a global perspective in the true spirit of the founding fathers of Wonca. It is our aim to ensure that family doctors are at the forefront of achieving the goals of universal health coverage and the elimination of health disadvantages caused as a result of isolation and rurality.

As chair, I personally set myself three major targets and I am concentrating my efforts meet them.
1. Achieving Gender Equity within the WWPRP and we are clearly on our way to achieving this very important target.
2. Attracting younger doctors to join. We are working with the Young Doctor Movements and IFMSA (International Federation of Medical Student Movements) to ensure that rural practice and rural health is firmly on the agenda of the next generation.
3. Meeting the needs of working rural doctors and hopefully you will see from our programme that those specific needs drive our current work programme.

2014 and 2015 conferences

Reflecting on the last year, the 12th WONCA World Rural Health Conference (Gramado, Brazil) was a resounding success with over 700 delegates from every corner of the globe. The programme was extensive (in Portuguese and English). Many of the workshop topics have stimulated new initiatives that we are now working upon as a WP. As with all conferences, the interactions and networking that takes place is equally important and all those attending will go away with wonderful memories of a beautiful and hospitable country and an extended and informed network. I wish to take the opportunity to send special thanks to our Brazilian hosts and Brazilian Society. View the Gramado statement developed at the conference.

Our plans for 2015 are focused on the 13th WONCA World Rural Health Conference (Dubrovnik, April 15-18) This is now taking up most of our time with only two and a half months to go. We have been delighted by the number of abstracts submitted and we hope to have the draft programme ready in early February. The conference is in the safe hands of KoHM (with Tanja Pekez-Pavlisko and Ennis Balint) and I am concentrating on YDMs and Medical Students who are organising the young doctor and medical student programmes. EURIPA (European Rural and Isolated Practitioners Association) are also running a full programme of European themed rural workshops at the conference. For more details, please go to website.

Ongoing Activities

We have many ongoing programmes, which include:

1. Developing a resource page to store rural grey literature and act as a rural practice on-line portal

2. Further development of our exciting Guidebook on Rural Medical Education, which was launched in Brazil. Responses worldwide has been extremely favourable and special thanks go to the editorial group, the authors and the reviewers

3. Social Media. The WWPRP is now represented on Twitter, Facebook, Google as well as a growing Google discussion group with nearly 500 contributing doctors, academics, medical students.

4. History of Rural Medicine/Rural Practice: The WWPRP is working with the Welcome foundation to hold its 2nd Witness Seminar on the History of Rural Medicine. It has also launched its Rural Heroes Project, which encourages rural doctors around the world to identify individuals who have made a difference over the last 100 years.

5. Collaborations and contributions: The WP is working with many different NGOs, academic institutions and professional bodies to promote rural practice. It is also contributing to other rural conferences around the world.

6. Other programmes include
     a. Rural Proofing for Health
     b. Role of Practice Nurses, Rural Nurses and Physician’s Assistants in Rural Practice.
     c. Leadership in rural practice
     d. Occupational& Agricultural Health
     e. And many more….

Finally, I would like to thank the WONCA Executive and the team in Thailand for their support over the last 18 months. 2015 promises to be another busy year and we welcome as many of you as possible to join us in Dubrovnik. 2015 marks the official 30th Birthday of the WWPRP & EURIPA and we hope that you will all join us to celebrate it.

Don’t forget it's not too late to book for Dubrovnik   

John Wynn-Jones