WONCA EMR moves ahead

The announcement of the  WONCA Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) as full  WONCA Region during the Cancun Conference was happily awaited. It was the culmination of several years of preparation on the part of its interim executive. The idea to establish a  WONCA group solely for the Middle East was introduced by Michael Boland, Bruce Sparks and many others.  WONCA EMR came into existence in July 2007, during the  WONCA Executive Meeting in Singapore and Professor Nabil Al Kurashi was selected to head the committee to develop the region. 

Current  WONCA EMR members and the year of joining  WONCA are: Saudi Arabia, 1994; Lebanon, 2003; Bahrain, 2004; Jordan, 2004; Iraq, 2005; UAE, 2006; Oman, 2007; Egypt, 2007; and Syria, 2010. These eight members represent more than 6,000 doctors in the East Mediterranean region. Other countries such as Qatar, Kuwait, Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia, and Morocco are expected to join in the next three years. 

WONCA EMR Mission:

Improve the quality of life of the peoples of the East Mediterranean through fostering and maintaining high standards of care in general practice/family medicine by providing a forum for exchange of knowledge and information; encouraging and supporting the development of academic organizations of general practitioners/family physicians; and representing the educational, research and service provision activities of general practitioners/family physicians before other world organizations and forums concerned with health and medical care. 

To this end,  WONCA EMR will organise an annual conference and other inter-country meetings and will support special projects which will stimulate development and research in General Practice in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Wonca EMR office bearers with other region VIPs (from l to r) Dr Jassim Kelaib , UAE; Dr Oraib Al Smadi,  Jordan; Prof Nabil Al Kurashi, President, Wonca EMR; Dr Faisal Al Hamar, Minister of Health, Kingdom of Bahrain; Prof Faisal Al Nasser, Bahrain; Dr Mohammad Tarawneh,  Jordan

Office bearers

  • Prof Nabil Al Kurashi, Saudi Arabia – President
  • Dr Mustafa Hashimi, UAE - Honorary Treasurer
  • Dr Oraib Al Smadi, Jordan – Honorary Secretary
  • Prof Taghreed Farahat, Egypt
  • Dr Omar Al Jabri, UAE 
  • Dr Mohammed Tarawneh, Jordan
  • Dr Badriyah Al-Rashedi, Oman
  • Prof Bassem Saab, Lebanon
  • Dr Sundus Shawqui Khalil, Iraq

WONCA EMR region meetings so far

The first  WONCA EMR Region meeting for regional board executives was held on November 13–14, 2007 in the Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

The second region meeting was held in Oman on January 20, 2009 along with the First International Conference of Family Medicine which was held at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU). The conference was organized by the SQU College of Medicine & Health Sciences in collaboration with WHO,  WONCA,  WONCA EMR, Oman Ministry of Health, the Oman Family Medicine Society (FAMCO), and the GCC Health Ministers Council. Prominent  WONCA leaders, Professors Chris Van Weel, Richard Roberts, Michael Kidd, and Igor Svab; and Doctors Alain Montegut and Gabriel Ivbijaro; also participated in the conference.

 WONCA EMR’s third regional meeting was held in Amman, Jordan on 7th October, 2009. This was in conjunction with the First Conference of the Pan-Arab Association of Family Medicine and the Eighth International Conference of Jordan Society of Family Medicine (JSFM), under the leadership of Dr Mohammed Tarawneh and Dr Oraib Smadi, board members of JSFM and  WONCA EMR members. 

The fourth EMR Region Meeting Bahrain on March 30 to 31, 2010. Important issues were discussed including: an update on the aspects of family medicine and primary care in each country, regional by-laws,  WONCA EMR Region Conference in November 2010, the creation of a scientific library for  WONCA EMR, and establishment of a  WONCA EMR office. A common agreement was reached for all members to find ways to support the organization in a variety of ways. 

The fifth, and very recent,  WONCA EMR region meeting was held Dubai in November 2010.

Progress so far

WONCA EMR has achieved some gains in three years since its establishment which include: formation of the society with increased involvement of  WONCA EMR in country health policies in the region and increased awareness of  WONCA in the region; increased participation in the regional scientific activities from  WONCA; acceptance and of  WONCA resources such as ICPC-2. There have also been more opportunities in the region to meet and share; strengthening of the societies in the region by using  WONCA as a global scientific support and by utilizing the expertise of  WONCA executives as consultants as needed; and better cultural networking with other regions in primary care.  WONCA EMR has been invited as an observer for every WHO inter-country activity in the region.

Although there have been quite substantial gains, there are some challenges and among them are: inadequate financial resources, marketing of ICPC-2, lukewarm acceptance of  WONCA in some countries. More efforts towards proving  WONCA EMR are needed in order to increase  WONCA country and individual membership. 

The future for  WONCA EMR

Immediate plans for  WONCA EMR include: establishing a permanent center that will house the executive office, training center, research center, and consultant offices; strengthening marketing and media relation activities; increase scientific involvement in family medicine in the region; and increase  WONCA EMR membership by signing up countries like Qatar, Kuwait, Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia, and Morocco.  WONCA EMR has developped a list of goals, roles and responsibilities of members for 2010 and ahead.


  • Develop and maintain relations with other regional organizations. 
  • Liaison with government entities and health authorities. 
  • Conduct stake-holder presentations and meetings. 
  • Capture and update  WONCA EMR data base with information on regional activities related to general practice/ family medicine. 
  • Manage Media relations opportunities on behalf of  WONCA EMR. 
  • Manage awareness campaigns and fund raising initiatives. 
  • Organize EMR meetings, produce agenda’s and track action points. 


  • Manage  WONCA EMR Branch website. 
  • Develop and maintain potential member data base. 
  • Conduct member recruitment drives. 
  • Manage communication with member organizations. 
  • Liaison with  WONCA membership Committee. 
  • Produce and manage  WONCA EMR Journal.


  • Provide structured support to organizations and individuals at all levels of learning: undergraduate specific training, CME and higher professional education in general practice. 
  • Conduct training needs analysis on behalf of members. 
  • Organize periodical training programs for GPs across various levels. 
  • Organize and manage member networking events. 
  • Liaison with academics, encourage participation from universities. 
  • Manage  WONCA EMR participation in related meetings and events. 
  • Plan for and organize  WONCA EMR regional conference.


  • Promoting research in general practice/family practice within EMR. 
  • Set research targets, support and foster research capacity of the discipline. 
  • Promote international co-operation through participation of academic departments of general practice/ family medicine in other regions. 
  • Plan and manage scientific content for EMR regional conference. 
  • Promote collaborative research in general practice in EMR region 
  • Facilitate and organize research methods training courses. 
  • Identify methods already used to improve quality of care in general practice 
  • Stimulate education and debate relevant for the development of general practice/ family medicine in by the publication a variety of background papers, covering clinical matters, educational topics, or policy issues. 

Nabil Al Kurashi