WONCA Special Interest Group: Policy Advocacy

Policy Advocacy

The aim of the Special Interest Group (SIG) on Policy Advocacy is to build capacity for policy advocacy by family doctors at national and local level. 

Convenor / Chair

Prof. Shabir Moosa - Chair | Member at Large, WONCA  

Email: SIGPolicyAdvocacy@wonca.net
Prof Shabir Moosa is a family physician with an MBA and PhD. He works in public service clinics of Soweto and at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He has extensive experience in rural general practice and the development of family medicine and primary care services in both rural and urban district health services in South Africa and Africa. Shabir is involved in development and research around family medicine, community-oriented primary health care (COPC) and health management for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Africa. He is Member at Large and past African President of WONCA (World Organisation of Family Doctors), and Executive Coordinator of AfroPHC, the African Forum for Primary Health Care (PHC), bringing African PHC team leaders together to advocate for PHC and UHC.

More about Shabir Moosa (https://profmoosa.com/)

Prof. Amanda Howe - Chair | Past President, WONCA

Email: SIGPolicyAdvocacy@wonca.net
Amanda Howe practised as a family doctor for forty years, and is also an academic professor and a national and international leader in family medicine. She is Emeritus Professor of Primary Care at the University of East Anglia, where she was part of the founding team for a new medical programme from 2001. During her career, she has held multiple roles in undergraduate, postgraduate, and faculty education, and also served in a number of roles for the Wonca member organisation, the Royal College of General Practitioners, including as their President 2019-2021. She was President of the World Organization of Family Doctors from 2016-2018, having also chaired the Wonca Working Party on Women and Family Medicine. Her lifetime commitment is to making family medicine better – for patients, governments, and for those doctors who choose to practice it!

Co-Convenor or other office bearers

Executive Members

Membership Open?

Vision and Mission of WONCA SIG on Policy Advocacy

The vision of the Special Interest Group (SIG) is family physician leaders at global, regional, national, and local level being expert at navigating the policy terrain and advocating effectively for family medicine and primary health care.

The mission of the Special Interest Group (SIG) on Policy Advocacy is to build capacity for policy advocacy by family doctors at national and local level.

Objectives of the WONCA SIG on Policy Advocacy

The objectives of the SIG are to:
1. Share experiences and insights on policy advocacy
2. Develop skills in policy advocacy for family medicine and primary health care
3. Share key knowledge and good practice more widely
4. Create a repository of resources to support policy advocacy
5. Support expertise for effective networking with stakeholders
6. Set up specific ‘learning sets’ for mentoring and support to those beginning to take up active advocacy roles. 


Publications & Documents


The group’s aims and programme of work will be refined in its first year of activities, but our main aim is educational, through the deepening of skills of members, using the ‘usual’ means open to WONCA – short summaries on the website with references, TEDtalks, online e-Workshops (aiming for every 3 months in the first year), presentations at conferences, and identification of useful resources. We would also expect to network with other WONCA WPs/SIGs to use their expertise, strengthen their ability to translate ideas into policy, and complement their advocacy projects. The kinds of topics we might address would include the common themes of advocating for our specialty, and the necessary conditions for its maximal benefit for PHC and UHC. The theoretical basis will include stakeholder management and policy analysis: early multiple streams theory, punctuated equilibrium theory or implementation theories like ‘street bureaucrats’, also recognizing the need to appreciate the construct of ‘power’ in all its permutations - and how to lever it.

This differentiates the role of the SIG from the high-level generation and use of policy by the WONCA Executive Committee. We cannot expect that the SIG would create policy for WONCA, but rather that the policies generated throughout the different components of our organization would be enhanced by the work of the SIG, while proceeding as always through the ‘usual’ channels for any formal approval needed.

We invite members and member organizations to work in the SIG, and aim to have a  lead from each WONCA Region who is engaged with the SIG. We shall also aim early on to engage with each region’s YDM, hopefully getting a named link person from each to help us identify existing resources and evolve a relevant programme to address the learning needs of our younger colleagues as future leaders of the profession. The initial list of original supporters below speaks to a credible group that can also act as mentors and resource people.  We shall also collaborate with other WPs and SIGs, aiming for a named member from each to be delegated to participate in the SIG on Policy Advocacy.

In terms of running the group, the co-Chairs will do most of the initial liaison, also taking advice from others about the best use of e.g., WONCA membership portal, webpage capacity, and priority areas. Over time we expect that a wider core group of active leads may emerge, which can be constituted as a SIG ‘Executive’ that can facilitate links with the broader membership. 


 Family doctors across the world are hard-working clinicians busy at the frontline. Policy, and the systems issues that surround them, are sometimes far from their minds. Yet our work is affected by policymaking - sometimes in very important ways, as any political or organizational change can create policy shifts in the world. This can be in a positive direction - for example, universal health care, team-based care, community-orientation, and value-based contracting. But it can also be challenging - for example, the curative-specialist-hospital mindset of policymakers (with COVID-19 responses only making that worse); or lack of systematic investment in primary care. Policymakers can make serious errors in judgement because family doctors’ views are not reaching them, or because family doctors are not making effective use of the power they can have. Even experienced general practice leaders who try hard to address such issues at policy level can feel the need for more training.  

Within WONCA, there is a wealth of experience that is effectively being used by many family doctor leaders around the world. Various working parties and special interest groups represent the expert ‘brains trust’ of WONCA, and produce gems in thinking. The Young Doctor Movements (YDMs) are ripe with innovation and enthusiasm. The Executive Committee has been actively engaging with WHO and other stakeholders, to influence policy at a global level, and each member organization will be trying to do the same in their country or region. We also have existing expertise in some of our members, including people already providing training in advocacy skills, and there are several WONCA Working Party/Special Interest Group (WPs/SIGs) and regional/country initiatives that have started great advocacy projects e.g., Mental Health, Rural. However, there remains opportunity to harness and share this knowledge and skills to produce even more impact for WONCA’s mission.