Featured Doctor

PONZO, Adj Prof Jacqueline (English/español)

Uruguay -Iberoamericana Pres-elect

Jacqueline Ponzo, from Uruguay, is the President Elect of WONCA Iberoamericana- CIMF region and will take over as president in November 2018.


What work do you do?

I am Adjunct Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of the Republic (UDELAR), in Uruguay. In this role, I have coordinated the East Canelones Teaching Assistance Unit since its foundation (the university decentralization project and the interaction of the health system in local development processes).

I am also in charge of the residency program in Family and Community Medicine (FMC) in Uruguay, responsible for the courses of Methodology of Research and Epidemiology, for postgraduate FCM. I integrates the Health and Environment Group into the practice of Family and Community Medicine.

I am a researcher and have promoted both the development of research in the community space, and the training of young researchers. This has allowed the emergence of a Research Area in the Department of Family and Community Medicine of UDELAR.

I have been in regular clinical practice in the rural locality of Migues for 20 years, since being in residency there.

Other interesting things you have done?

Interestingly, I am one of four members of the first group of residents of FMC in Uruguay (1997-2000), and as such was founder and first president of the Association of Residents and Postgraduates (ARPMEFYCU). I participated actively in the process that gave rise to the current Uruguayan Society of Family and Community Medicine (SUMEFAC).

Recently, I was elected to be president of WONCA Iberoamericana-CIMF region for the period 2018-2020. I was a member of the Board of Directors of CIMF (2012-2016) and president of the 4th Ibero-American Congress of Family and Community Medicine that took place in Montevideo in March 2015, with 1,600 participants from 26 countries. We held this conference without support from the pharmaceutical industry. Since 2014, I have been coordinator of the Ibero-American Research Network in Family Medicine (IBIMEFA).

I hold a Master's Degree in Epidemiology from the Universidad de la República (Uruguay) and am currently completing a doctorate in Collective Health, Environment and Society at Universidad Andina Simón Bolivar (Ecuador).

I have also held management positions since 2001, at governmental and university levels, in the departmental, national and international space: positions such as Director of Residents of FCM (2001-2003), Director of Environmental and Occupational Health of the Ministry of Public Health (2003- 2005), Director of Health Promotion in the Departmental Government of Canelones (2005-2010), Counselor of Faculty elected by the Order Graduates (2010-2011), Coordinator of the Academic Committee of Primary Health Care of the Association of Public Universities of Southern Cone (AUGM) (2010 to 2016).

What is it like to be a family doctor in your country?

The FCM in Uruguay is a specialty in full development with possibilities for personal and professional fulfillment. Family Medicine residency training has existed for twenty years and the number of family medicine specialists is approximately 500. Our presence in the health system is still scarce but is continuously improving.

It is possible to work in the National Integrated Health System (NIHS); or in clinical / community activity with or without teaching activity; or in the University where clinical, community, educational and academic activity is also carried out. Many family doctors have like me, also assumed management positions at different levels of the NHIS. However, vacancies remain in the Residency program.

It seems necessary to continue looking for improvements in remuneration and working conditions to make the specialty more attractive to the younger generation.

Medical training, and FCM training in particular, is dispersed throughout Uruguay, and many young specialists choose to settle outside Montevideo in urban or rural areas, as favoured by university decentralization which has been consolidated in the last 10 years.

What are your interests outside work?

I was a mother when I was still a student and now my three children are young adults. I live in Montevideo (and in the last two years also partially in Quito, Ecuador) but my place of belonging is the Department of Canelones, where I was born, work and have lived most of my life. I like to share free time with friends and loved ones, nature, small towns, popular markets, cycling, good wine, art in general, and cinema and poetry, in particular.