The VDGM 10th Anniversary Preconference

                                          see more photos on Flickr photo album

So the ship eventually returns to its port; to bring back the experiences of a journey, to look back at the moments that defined it, whether they were good, bad, passionate, exciting, imperfect, thought-provoking or irrational, and to build upon them. A circle has been completed, so much more to discover!


The astonishing city of Lisbon was the host of the 10th anniversary preconference of the Vasco da Gama Movement (VDGM), which was held on 1st and 2nd July 2014, and was made possible thanks to the enduring effort and passion of the preconference organising team, which was led by Catarina Matias, and included Ana Nunes Barata, Pedro Azevedo, Nuno Cardoso Jacinto, Rita Lopes, and Ana Margarida Cruz, and the unconditional support of the Portuguese Association of Family Medicine (APMGF).

Just two days before the main event kicked off, an exchange programme was organised for participants coming across Europe, who had the opportunity to attend a brief presentation of the Portuguese Primary Care system, and to visit Portuguese practices.

The theme of this year’s preconference was “New Routes for General Practice and Family Medicine”; on this topic, two leaders of Family Medicine were invited to convey reflections and inspiration to the participants with their visionary speeches.

Dr João Sequeira Carlos, the president of the 19th WONCA Europe conference and past chair of our movement, kick-started the works of the preconference with an insightful journey to the past. His speech, entitled “VdGM - through seas never sailed before”, carried the values and the passion of the founders of our movement, which have proven to be indelible through time.

In his lecture, Dr Per Kallestrup, the ‘father’ of the Hippokrates Exchange Programme, encouraged the audience to reflect on their aspirations and passions, and invited them to realise their potential to make the world a better place and our profession stronger.

The VdGM 10th Anniversary Book

The epitome of the anniversary celebrations was the presentation of the “The Vasco da Gama Movement Anniversary Book: 10 years sailing, much more to discover” during a special ceremony on Wednesday 2nd July 2014.

The book was a fantastic example of a bottom-up initiative inside VdGM, which was led by the vision of Catarina Matias, Rita Lopes, Patrícia Amaral and Zelal Akbayin, and became reality thanks to the generous sponsorship and support of the Portuguese Association of Family Medicine (APMGF).

Stories narrated by the founders and leaders of our movement where gathered and contributions from different nations were collected to provide a quick look at the diversity of the European context.
In her opening letter in the book, Catarina Matias (pictured with the book at left) says: “It is with great pleasure that we present this book, which aims to tell the story of the first 10 years of the Vasco da Gama Movement (VdGM). From an idea into a project, passing to the execution, it maintains nowadays a continuum of more ideas and projects. This continuing and intense activity contributes to the Family Medicine / General Practice development and maintains the enthusiasm of European trainees and young Family Doctors / General Practitioners. Like a virus, it attempts to spread around the globe, encouraging and supporting the creation of similar movements in other continents – this is the true Vasco da Gama spirit!”

The WONCA leaders, Prof Job Metsemakers and Prof Michael Kidd, honoured us with their presence at the presentation of the book, which was carried out on the second day of the preconference. Perhaps the most emotional quote was made by one of the founders of our Movement , Dr Fons Sips (pictured right): “If happiness is when your fantasies become reality...I'm happy!” 

Harris Lygidakis
Immediate past president VDGM