The Spice Route

The Spice Route

‘The Spice Route’ is the WONCA South Asia Region working group for new and future doctors who have an interest in family/ general practice. It aims to promote excellence in this field and to address the challenges pertaining to global health. The creation of this group was inspired by the work of similar WONCA groups for new and future family/ general practitioners around the world: the Vasco de Gama movement in Europe, the Rajakumar movement in the Asia-Pacific region, Waynakay in the Ibero-americana region, and NAFFDONA in the North America region.

The Spice Route was officially inaugurated at the WONCA South Asia / General Practitioners Association of Nepal (GPAN) conference, in Kathmandu, in December 2010. Dr Ramnik Parekh made a presentation at the conference outlining the details of the group. Dr Sonia Chery, of the UK, described the need for such a movement and Dr Raman Kumar gave a sketch of contemporary scenario of training of GPs in India. The session was chaired by WONCA President, Prof Richard Roberts.

The Spice Route held its first pre-conference, in Mumbai, on December 16, 2001, at the WONCA South Asia region /FFPAI (Federation of Family Physicians’ Associations of India) conference held in collaboration with the AFPI (Academy of Family Physicians of India. This first The Spice Route pre-conference was inaugurated with words of blessing from senior colleagues, Prof Richard Roberts, WONCA President; Dr Preethi Wijegoonewardene, WONCA South Asia Region President; Dr Ramnik Parekh, FFPAI President; Prof Pratap Prasad, GPAN President; and Prof Kanu Bala, president of the Bangladesh Academy of Family Physicians. There was active participation from approximately 80 new and future family / general practitioners from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Convenor / Chair

Dr Sankha Randenikumara (Sri Lanka)

Sankha is also the current national chair of the Spice Route in Sri Lanka and is a state doctor and family physician. He is a council member of the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice and the regional chair of the WONCA Working Party on the Environment and a council member and honorary secretary of the ‘Palliative and End of Life Care Task Force’ of Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA).

Sankha graduated from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka and started his career as the Medical Officer-in-charge in a rural hospital in the southern province of Sri Lanka. He was conferred Southern Provincial Health Awards consecutively for two years in 2016 and 2017 for the upliftment of primary care services to the public by his hospital within a short period of time. With these achievements Sankha was selected as the youngest member to the expert committee appointed in 2017 to formulate a proposal on ‘Re-organization of Primary Healthcare in Sri Lanka’ for the World Bank country project which was launched recently.

Sankha earned his MCGP qualification in 2018 and he is an enthusiastic member of the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka. His research interests include primary care rural practice, NCD and archaeology. Read more about Sankha here.

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Co-Convenor or other office bearers

Membership Open?

Vision and Mission

  • Foster mentoring between current and future leaders in family medicine in the South Asia Region.
  • Promote representation by young family medicine leaders in the South Asia Region.
  • Allow young and future family doctors an avenue to explore the greater depth of our clinical discipline.
  • Expose young doctors to the cultural differences in family medicine across our region.
  • Provide an international perspective on training in family medicine and enable us to work together within our region to strengthen the role of primary health care in each of our communities.
  • Contribute to the development of new structures to support high quality primary health care with ideas from the future family medicine workforce.
  • Promote training in family medicine and induct fresh graduates in family practice .
  • Promote family medicine in the South Asia region.
  • Allow learning from the diverse, old and young countries in our region where there are many models of family medicine.
  • Explore possibilities of exchanges with other movements.


  • To improve education and training for young family physicians/ general practitioners in the South Asia Region.
  • To increase opportunities for new and future family physicians/ general practitioners to develop skills in:
    • family and general practice research
    • family and general practice publication
    • family and general practice presentations at national and international conferences
    • family and general practice exchanges
  • To give a platform for new and future family physicians/ general practitioners to share their concerns, doubts and aspirations and help to address them.
  • To encourage new and future family physicians/ general practitioners leadership through participation in The Spice Route’s executive structure.


Future development:

  • Spice Route structure and communication channels:
    • Strengthening of a core group of The Spice Route members and national representatives
    • Creation of a Facebook group (Spice Route Movement)
    • Creation of a website (to be announced)
    • Funding
    • Creating links with other countries in the South Asia region: Afghanistan, the Maldives and Bhutan, and with other groups such as Vasco de Gama, Rajakumar, NAFFDONA and Waynakay. 
  • Education, training and faculty development
    • Comparative studies of education and training systems, and curricula within the region
    • Development of recommendations to senior organisations and policy makers
  • Research
    • Liaison with existing primary care research groups
    • The Spice Route platform for presentation at future pre-conferences, and publications in affiliated journals such as the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care
    • Research methodology workshops at future The Spice Route events 
  • Exchange programmes
    • Organisation and funding of opportunities to learn from each other, first hand, at a national, regional and international level, including participation at Wonca conferences in the South Asia and other regions.


Relevant Resources