Featured Doctor

CARLOS, Prof João Sequeira

Portugal - WONCA Europe conference president

João Carlos is a Family Physician and president of the Portuguese Association of General Practice/Family Medicine. He is the Host Organising Committee President for the WONCA Europe conference being held in Lisbon in July 2014. (Photo acknowledgement: Cortesia revista less/ Paolo Lima)

What work are you doing currently?

As every family physician in the world I work a lot! Taking care of our patients with compassion, empathy and knowledge is a complex task moreover if you are deeply committed to this mission. The patients are my priority. I’m always there for them and even after daily consultations I keep linked with my patients by e-mail. I love to be a family physician and currently I’m the head of the General Practice / Family Medicine (GP/FM)Department of Hospital da Luz, a private hospital in Lisbon, founded in 2006.
Hospital managers were very innovative with the idea of organizing a GP/FM practice inside a hospital. Today its sustained success has proven the importance of GP/FM not only in the community, but also within a big hospital. Besides my position in Hospital da Luz, I also work as a family physician in GP/FM department of UCS, the Health Care Clinic of TAP, the Portuguese Airline Company.

A family physician is very experienced in managing complexity and that gave me the ability to combine two components of my professional life – clinical activity and the work in Portuguese Association of General Practice/Family Medicine (APMGF). In the small time left after consultations I try to find space for APMGF. Sometimes that’s the art of the impossible but I always quote a Portuguese saying – “who runs for pleasure doesn't get tired”!

What are your interests in work and outside work?

Being simultaneously involved in clinical setting and in APMGF, the organization that represents GP/FM in Portugal as a professional association and as a scientific society, gives me a broad vision of the health system where I practice. And that also helps to better understand my patients’ needs and expectations. So my interests as a family physician are directly related with this systemic perspective.

I have special interest in the patient/doctor relationship, chronic disease management, health services organisation, family interventions, primary health care research, integration of care, GP/FM education and training, information and communications technology, health promotion and disease prevention. That’s my magical cluster of interests that moves me every day in my work. But the core is always the moment when I meet my patients.

Outside of my work I try to improve everyday my talent of being a dedicated husband and father. I’m lucky to have a very close family. It’s a challenge to keep it strong and united with the essential support of my wife, also a family physician. Our three wonderful children demand a lot of energy but give us double the pleasure, with love. Spending quality time with them is my main activity outside work. Together we swim, play football and walk. We also share as much as we can travelling through Portugal and abroad. To relax I really like to find some time to read, listen to music and to write.

How do you see the importance of APMGF at national and international level?

The Portuguese Association of General Practice/Family Medicine was founded in 1983 and in thirty years has come to be considered to be the one of the most influent factors in Primary Health Care (PHC) development in Portugal. We are very proud of it and that gives us more responsibility to properly manage the organization. Since the beginning, APMGF has had an international scope being involved with SIMG and WONCA. Portugal was always represented in international meetings and conferences.

In 1994, we organized in Portugal (Estoril) a memorable joint meeting between SIMG and WONCA, few months before the establishment of WONCA Europe. That was a symbolic milestone in our early years and an expression of the work APMGF was doing in international cooperation.

At national level colleagues involved in APMGF were the leaders in the process of PHC reform, which had the political starting point in 2005. Today even facing some constraints of the National Health System has a renewed PHC with GP/FM leading an innovative model of practices covering more than half of Portuguese population.

At the same time, APMGF was once again very active at an international level. In 2004, it helped to create a Junior Doctors Network inside WONCA Europe, named later on the Vasco da Gama Movement (VdGM). I was personally involved - being the president of VdGM until 2009, when I was appointed to assume APMGF presidency. I’ve a great team in the board of directors, some of them representing the new generation of family physicians.

What do you expect for Lisbon WONCA Europe Conference?

WONCA Europe gave APMGF the opportunity to organize the 2014 WONCA Europe Conference. We are combining thecommittee’s expertise with Lisbon sights and traditions in setting an outstanding program.

From Portuguese history we learnt that in moments of difficulty, Portuguese people react with action promoting further development. We feel stronger these days and we are very confident that we have organized a memorable conference. As in the time of Portuguese discoveries, old navigators discovered new ways to travel around the world: now we are ready to challenge our colleagues to develop new routes for General Practice and Family Medicine.

We have registered colleagues from almost 70 countries representing all WONCA World Regions. We received about 2000 abstracts helping us to create a robust scientific program related to four main areas: innovation in primary care, the new generation of family doctors, personalized and comprehensive care, and knowledge management.

Since the old times of maritime discoveries Lisbon is a symbol of global thinking. Under the motto "New Routes for General Practice and Family Medicine" APMGF is preparing a conference to explore new trends of our specialty. We want to celebrate the role of each family physician in health systems.

See you in Lisbon!