WONCA EMR president reports on WHO meeting in Oman

Jordanian Minster of Health Dr Ali Hyasat (right) with WONCA leaders, Dr Oraib Alsmadi and Dr Mohammed Tarawneh (EMR President)

WHO Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean 60th Session, Muscat, Oman, October 27-30, 2013

WONCA EMR Executive Members received a formal invitation to attend this important meeting which attended too by H.R.H. Princess Muna Al-Hussein (Jordan), and ministries of health in the region in addition to other partners.
Prof Taghreed Farhat, Egyptian Family Physician Association and Dr Oraib Alsmadi, Jordan Society of Family Medicine, and Dr Mohammed Tarawneh, WONCA EMR president, participated in the meeting.

It was my first experience of attending such meetings, of the WHO Regional Committee, and also for my colleagues. The opening ceremony of the sixtieth session of the regional committee for the East Mediterranean was conducted on the evening of Sunday 27 October 2013 in the Majan Hall of Al-Bustan Hotel, Muscat, Oman.

WONCA statement

The following WONCA statement was delivered by Dr Mohammed Tarawneh (pictured right):

The World Organization of Family Doctors, otherwise known as WONCA represents around half a million family doctors from 130 countries and territories across the world. WONCA's objective is to improve the quality of life of people through fostering high standards of care in family medicine.

As president of WONCA's EMR region, I would like to draw your attention to the following points relevant to the work of WHO-EMRO:

1. The need to recognize the role of family doctors as a cornerstone in the delivery high quality Primary Care. As Dr Chan recently stated, “family doctors (provide) the bedrock of comprehensive, compassionate, and people-centred care”.
2. The need to invest in training family doctors in community settings at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
3. The need to invest in training of other primary care workers in order to be able to provide better health services in areas where there are no family doctors yet, and to effectively support the work of family doctors where they already exist.
4. The need to invest in well-resourced Primary Health Care Centres in the community that allow primary care teams to deliver high quality care.

Regardless of the accelerated development of health technology services in advanced health care levels, primary care must remain a priority in the different areas of WHO-EMRO. The importance of having strong primary care at the heart of all health systems is recognized globally in the declaration of Alma Ata and the 2008 World Health Report. It is a key mechanism through which to achieve universal health coverage and reduce the global burden of non-communicable diseases.

As WONCA EMR president, I look forward to working with member states, honorable ministers of health, WHO-EMRO and partner organizations to further strengthen primary care in our region.

Meeting report

Opening session

The formal opening, by the Minister of Health of Sudan and vice-chair of fifty-ninth session of the Regional Committee, was followed by a welcoming note by the Government of Oman and the keynote address by H.R.H. Princess Muna Al-Hussein (Jordan), WHO Patron for Nursing and Midwifery in the EMRO.

The following issues were presented by Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean addressing Dr Margaret Chan (letter), WHO Director-General:
  • Universal health coverage
  • UN political declaration of NCDs clearly stated that prevention must be the cornerstone of the global response to the disease
  • Unfinished MDG agenda and the place of health in the post 2015 development agenda
  • Progress in implementing International Health Regulations
  • Polio eradication
Day one, October 27

The following subjects were discussed in the first day:
  • Pooled vaccine procurement: review of progress to date by presenting country reports
  • The rules and regulations of the private sector in health system strengthening: exploring unfamiliar territory
  • Health information system : an update on the development of a list of core indicators
  • WHO global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013-2020
  • Launch of WHO reports
Day two, October 28

The following subjects discussed in the second day:
  • Election of officers
  • Adoption of the provisional agenda and the provisional daily time -table
  • Decision of establishment of drafting committee
  • Annual Report of the Regional Director 
  • Technical discussion : towards universal health coverage: challenges, opportunities and roadmap
Photo: Dr Mohammed Tarawneh (left) with Dr Ala Alwan, the WHO EMRO Regional Director

Day three October 29

The following subjects discussed in the third day:
  • Regional strategy on environmental health
  • Saving the lives of mothers and children, noting that as WONCA representatives we also underlined the role of Family Physicians in PHC sittings as a cornerstone in providing high quality health services in perinatal, antenatal and postnatal for the mothers as well as their children; we emphasized on the importance of reproductive health, family planning programs in addition to activation of the national registries for maternal deaths.
  • International Health Regulations (2005): criteria for additional extension
  • Implementing the UN Political Declaration on prevention ,NCDs and mental health, based on the regional framework for action, “ a technical paper” presented by WHO
  • Regional strategy for the improvement of civil registration and vital statistics system
  • Financial issues of the WHO
  • Public health in the region; Views from the Lancet (Dr Richard Horton, Editor of the Lancet).

Other WONCA activities

Informal discussions were held with health ministers of Lebanon and Jordan, and other VIP representatives of Tunisia, Libya, Sudan, and Iran, where we focused with them on strengthening and supporting the role of FM specialty. In addition, two formal meetings with WHO Regional Director, Dr Ala Alwan and with Director General of Executive Board, Health Ministers Council for Cooperation Council of GCC, Prof Tawfiq Khoja.

The WONCA EMR statement (above) was distributed to the participants.

Dr Mohammed Tarawneh
WONCA EMR President