WONCA Africa conference

The 3rd WONCA Africa Conference was held in the beautiful Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe from November 19–21, hosted by The College of Primary Care Physicians of Zimbabwe and conference convenor, Dr Muriel Fallala. There were well over 400 delegates, from 25 different countries. The belated opening by the Zimbabwean Minister of Health, Dr Henry Madzorera, a Family Physician (FP) himself, was challenging: Family Physicians need to lead from the front to address socio-economic issues. He spoke of the store of goodwill in Zimbabwe and the need of FPs to advocate for the marginalised poor in Africa.

The theme of the conference was Roles and Responsibilities of an African Family Physician. The first plenary set the tone: Dr Sylvester Osinowo, WONCA Africa President, warmly welcomed delegates. Professor Khaya Mfenyana, WONCA Africa immediate-past president spoke on international collaboration in social accountability of education. Professor Richard Roberts spoke of the opportunity for Africa, with its innovation with limited resources, to jump ahead of the world, in a resource-limited future. There were three plenaries, four parallel sessions (including oral presentations and workshops), two clinical update sessions and many posters.

Professor Jan de Maeseneer spoke on the last plenary about scaling up family medicine in Africa. He raised the challenges of human resources, in Africa, with shortages, maldistribution, brain drain and the need to scale up human resources in Africa. He quoted the EU-FP7 funded HURAPRIM (Human Resources in African Primary Care) Project. The Primafamed Conference, over November 21–23, was mostly about scaling up capacity building in family medicine and primary health in Sub-Saharan Africa. A simple summary of many presentations are available on Twitter at #WONCA Africa.

The WONCA Africa region had a council meeting on November 20, with communication from WONCA Africa President, Dr Osinowo; Honorary Secretary’s Report and Minutes by Dr Atai Omoruto; and Honorary Treasurers’ / Conference Report by Dr Fallala. There were concerns about costs of WONCA Africa and its conference, and it was resolved to raise funds with a WONCA Africa membership fee of $300 and a direct WONCA Africa membership fee of $20. Dr Shabir Moosa’s offer to act as secretariat for WONCA Africa was accepted. There were several committees set up later, on the advice of the President: Equity, New Generation, Finance, Conferences, Membership, Education and Research, and Communication. WONCA working parties were to write to the Executive to formalise African structures if they were active.

Everyone enjoyed the superb Elephant Hills Hotel, a short shuttle away from the breathtaking Victoria Falls. The evenings were packed with socials – a welcome cocktail at the Elephant Hills, an African Cultural Night at the Boma Hotel (with a defining participatory drumming/dancing session) and a conference banquet. The food was superb and the company great – a memorable 3rd WONCA Africa conference in Zimbabwe managed by Dr Fallala, supported by Professor Gboyega Ogunbanjo, Professor Bob Mash and teams. Till the next conference in 2015!

Dr Shabir Moosa
Secretariat WONCA Africa
Chair – Communications Sub-Committee