WONCA Working Party: Rural Practice

Rural Practice

The WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice (RuralWONCA) is an active network of rural family doctors and rural academics from each of the world's regions: Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Australasia/Pacific. Members of the working party are expected to be engaged and active in the organisation and are selected after presenting to the Working Party Council, usually or before one of our WONCA World Rural Health conferences.

Our vision is health for all rural people around the world.

RuralWONCA is committed to equitable representation, which ensures that we attract members from diverse backgrounds:
• Low and middle income countries
• Women
• Young doctors in training and medical students who have an interest in working with rural communities
• Indigenous representation

Rural doctors with a passion for rural health are encouraged to apply for membership of the Working Party Council. They are encouraged to attend some meetings as observers (who are always welcome) before becoming members.


Convenor / Chair

Assoc Prof Bruce Chater (Australia)

A/Prof Bruce Chater is from Queensland, Australia where he is Medical Superintendent with Right to Private Practice in the rural town of Theodore. Bruce was the Working Party's inaugural Secretary and took over as Chair in October 2019.

He is inaugural Chair of the (Queensland) Statewide Rural and Remote Clinical Network, Mayne Associate Professor and Head of the Discipline of Rural and Remote Medicine at University of Queensland, and on the Australian Independent Hospital Pricing Authority Board. He was the founding convenor of the Rural Doctors Associations of Queensland and Australia and the founding Chair of the Australian National Rural Health Alliance.

Bruce remains grounded in the needs of rural communities as performs these roles while providing comprehensive rural generalist hospital practice and general practice in Theodore. He has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to Rural Medicine and his rural community.

Email Chair

Co-Convenor or other office bearers

Past Chair: Dr John Wynn-Jones (Wales)

Dr John Wynn-Jones has been a rural GP in Wales for over 30 years. He has now retired from his full time practice but still continues to work part time. He trained at Guy’s Hospital London 1969-75 but after finishing his GP training returned to his native Wales to work in a rural practice in Montgomery on the Welsh borders.

He soon became aware that the rural GPs lacked any significant support or on-going continuing education. He and a few colleagues formed a local medical society, which provided educational and support for general practitioners and their staff. He went on to found the UK Institute of Rural Health and the Welsh Rural Postgraduate Unit. In 1997 he was instrumental in creating the European Rural and Isolated Practitioner’s Association (EURIPA) and remained its president until 2012. Under his presidency the network grew in stature and influence and represents rural practitioners across the continent.

John was one of the founding members of the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice and took over as chair in Prague this year from Professor Ian Couper. His personal areas of focus for the forthcoming triennium include:
• Renewal of the membership of the Working Party, aiming to ensure that there is gender equity and that younger doctors are represented
• Ensuring relevance to working rural practitioners, through systematically reviewing previous policies and statements of the working party, adopted at conferences over the years, so that they remain relevant and are communicated effectively with rural family doctors.
• Linking more with the broader Wonca family, aiming to work together and combine skills, resources and energies to address the mounting challenges that rural practitioners face over the coming decades.
• Publish the electronic Guidebook on Rural Medical Education, which has been under development for a number of years.

He has held many posts and roles over the years including the position of Medical Advisor to the BBC’s Archers, the longest running radio soap in the world. He has spoken at conferences around the world and published on rural issues. He is currently the Senior Lecturer in Rural and Global Health at Keele University.

He worked with his colleagues at the Institute of Rural Health to develop UK’s Rural Proofing Tool in 2007 ( 2nd version was released earlier this year). The rural Proofing process is key to ensuring that rural policy meets the needs of rural populations and used properly can have an impact in promoting equity for rural inhabitants.

His passion for rural practice remains unabated and says that despite the success we have much more to do to reduce rural inequalities and improve health outcomes.

John describes himself as “A catcher of dreams” who believes that we all have the capacity to change the world. As Paulo Cohelo says in “The Alchemist” we must listen to the language of the world, look where we started from and take the opportunities when they arise.

Executive Members

  • Pratyush Kumar (India) - Secretary
  • John Wynn-Jones (UK) - Immediate Past Chair
  • Ian Couper (South Africa) - Treasurer
  • Dave Schmitz (USA) - Publicity
  • Jo Scott Jones (New Zealand) - Communications
  • Zakiur Rahman (Bangladesh) - Research
  • Joy Mugambi (Kenya) - Education
  • Bikash Gauchan (Nepal) - Clinical Practice
  • Pratyush Kumar (India) - Developing Countries (LMICs)
  • Mayara Floss (Brazil) - Students and Young Doctors (Rural Seeds)
  • Amber Wheatley (British Virgin Islands)

Vision and Mission of WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice

Mission: Rural doctors reaching towards rural health in partnership with like-minded groups:

  1. Repositioning and relationship
  2. Education
  3. Activism
  4. Conferencing and communication
  5. Health for All Rural People vision

Objectives of the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice

To facilitate communication between and networking of rural general practitioners around the world both individually and through rural family doctors' organisations and interest groups.

To represent rural family doctors within WONCA, to WONCA Council, Standing Committees, Working Parties and Member Organisations.

Through WONCA to liaise on rural health issues with the World Health Organisation and other relevant international bodies.

To collaborate with organisations of rural doctors

To address issues of importance to rural family doctors including developing effective

  • rural health care systems with appropriate funding to meet community needs
  • integration of the family doctor into primary health care approaches for rural health care delivery 
  • community participation including a multisectoral approach to health care and health promotion in rural communities 
  • strategies to improve the status and health of rural women around the world 
  • rural health workforce models. 
  • recruitment, retention and support strategies for rural practitioners. 
  • education and training for rural medical practice 
  • research in rural health and rural practice including building research and development partnerships involving individuals and organisations in different countries 


Publications & Documents

WWPRP Policies 

Island Medicine Statement 2019

Albuquerque Attestation on the Future of Rural Family Medicine in the USA 2019

Rural Nursing and Midwifery Albuquerque Statement 2019

Statement on Building Resilience & Preventing Burnout in Rural Practice 2017

Cairns Statement on Climate Change & Environmental Health 2017

Policy on Simulation 2016

Policy on Female Family Physicians in Rural Practice 2nd Edition (2003)

Policy on Quality and Effectiveness of Rural Health Care (2003)
Política de qualidade e eficácia dos cuidados de saúde rural (português)

Política para médicas de família em área rural (2002) (português)

Policy on Using IT to Improve Rural Health Care 2nd Edition (2002)
Política sobre o uso da Tecnologia da Informação para melhoria dos cuidados da saúde rural (português)

Policy on Rural Practice and Rural Health- 2nd Edition (2001)

Policy on Training for Rural General Practice (1995)
Política para a Formação para a Prática Geral Rural (português)

WWPRP Statements & Declarations

Delhi declaration (2018)  (español) (français) (português) (中文) ( العربية )

Cairns Action Statement on Climate Change and Environmental Health (2017)

Statement on Building Resilience and Preventing Burnout in Rural Practice (2017)

Statement on Simulation in Medical Education (2015)

Gramado Statement (2014)

Statement on Simulation in Medical Education (2014)

Thunder Bay Communiqué (2012)

Cebu Strategies (2011)

Resolution on Integration (2009)

Calabar communique (2008)

HARP: Health for All Rural People: Creating Unity for Action (Draft October 2003)

Melbourne Manifesto: Way Forward (2003) - a code of practice for the international recruitment of health care professionals
O Manifesto de Melbourne: Um Código de Condutas para o Recrutamento Internacional de Profissionais de Saúde (português)

The Kuching Statement For Action (2003) - the health of indigenous peoples
A declaração de KUCHING para açãoa Saúde dos Povos Indígena (português)

The Santiago Statement On Child Labour (2003)

The Santiago de Compostela Statement (2003) - on HIV/AIDS
HIV/AIDS: o documento de Santiago de Compostela (português)

Calgary Commitment, (2000) - women in rural family medical practice

An Action Framework for the Conference Participants and the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice (1999)

The Durban Declaration (1997) - health for all rural people
Declaração de Durban- Saúde para toda a População Rural (português)

Rural Seeds (Medical Students and Young Doctors)

Cairns call to action (2017)


RuralWonca is a truly democratic network, which reaches out to engage with its members. It does this through:
• The Council is the main body of RuralWonca and its members demonstrates equitable representation through gender, geography, demography and age profile.
• The Executive together with the chair and secretary manage the affairs on a daily basis. Each executive member carries a policy portfolio and is accountable to the Council.
• The Assembly represents the larger rural family and meets at Wonca World Rural Conferences. The assembly is open to everyone and it gives the rural world at large the opportunity to identify future policy. It also gives council members the opportunity to disseminate its output and work in progress
• The Social Media Platform is a conduit between RuralWonca and the rest of the world. RuralWonca is represented on Facebook, Twitter and has an active Global Google discussion group.

Current priorities for the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice

  1. Promote rural medical education, rural medical schools, and rural clinical schools.
  2. Be an international voice for rural medicine and health including political activism on issues impacting rural health, including determinants of rural health.
  3. Maintain the Health for All Rural People (HARP) vision and move the HARP process forward.
  4. Renew the vision and mission of the Working Party, in line with these priorities, and re-position our relationships with WONCA and other organizations.
  5. Continue to organise conferences for educational and communication purposes and to promote rural health. 
Abstracts from Gramado 2014


Couper I, Strasser R, Rourke J, Wynn-Jones J. Rural health activism over two decades: the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice 1992-2012. Rural and Remote Health 15: 3245. (Online) 2015. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au 

The working party meets in Gramado 2014 

WONCA Rural Working Party meet in Thunder Bay 2012