An interview with the new WONCA CEO

November, 2012


During November, the new WONCA Secretariat office in Bangkok has been busy setting up office and taking over secretary duties from the Singapore staff. The WONCA editor interviewed our new CEO, Dr Garth Manning, about progress in the Bangkok office.

WONCA editor: You have appointed two new WONCA staff members – could you introduce them?

Nongluck                                                                                                                           Sumalee

Our Chief Administration Officer is Dr Nongluck Suwisith and our Membership and Admin Officer is Sumalee Pratoomnun. The Thai custom is just to use first names, so they’ll generally be known just as Nongluck and Sumalee. We’re still recruiting for an Accounts Officer to complete the small team, but we haven’t yet found a suitable candidate.


Nongluck comes from a nursing background. She has two Masters degrees - in Public Health from Thailand and in Nursing from Perth, Australia, and she also a PhD. She is very committed to the development of primary care both nationally and internationally and is very excited to have this opportunity in an international context. As she has said – she’s worked in a large team for a small country, now she’s in a small team but covering the world!

Sumalee has a Masters degree in Communication, so she is the natural person to help in developing a more robust communication strategy for WONCA. Of course the key issues are communication with our Member Organizations and Direct Members but we want to be able to offer more information more often and through more channels – and that’s what Sumalee will be concentrating on over the next few months.

I’ve worked with both of them previously on an EU-funded Health Care Reform Project, here in Thailand, and I know that they’re both very capable and very committed people, so I am really enthusiastic about how we can develop over the coming months.

WONCA editor: The new Secretariat has been very busy - can you tell me what has been happening during November?

Photo: Dr Nongluck Suwisith (left), Dr Garth Manning and Ms Sumalee Pratoomnun (right) roll up their sleeves and start unpacking boxes just arrived from Singapore

Firstly, we’ve all been on a fairly steep learning curve! There are so many aspects to WONCA’s administration and logistics so we’re still finding our feet a little. As I’ve reported elsewhere, our key issues – apart from starting to unpack the 89 boxes from Singapore! – have been to make contact with all Member Organizations and to process the increasing numbers of applications for Direct Membership. We also try to respond to the many enquiries received each week from members and to direct their enquiries to the most appropriate information source. For now we’re working with the systems inherited from the Secretariat in Singapore, but we’re also looking ahead to see if we can’t develop new systems to make things even more efficient.

WONCA editor: What other priorities for the next couple of months as we finish 2012 and enter the year of another WONCA world conference?

For us it’s going to be a really hectic few months as we prepare for our first World Council, coming up in Prague, in June. There are so many logistics and administrative matters to plan for, so we need to be really on the ball. Of course at the same time we have to deal with all the more routine administration, which at this time of year also includes the annual billing of all Member Organizations – a vital task as it is one of the key income streams for WONCA. 

WONCA editor: What are the most interesting things you have so far discovered about WONCA?

Photo: Dr Garth Manning and Nongluck unpack the WONCA sign

So many things!

Firstly, that there is so much interest and so many activities going on under WONCA’s auspices.

Secondly, I have got to know the website much better and am hugely impressed at the multiplicity of resources it contains. I suspect many of our members click on it fairly briefly to look at one or two specific aspects, but it’s well worth a longer look.

Thirdly, I hadn’t fully appreciated what a really good deal Direct Membership is. It’s a great way of directly supporting WONCA and its acitivities – in fact for some it’s the only way, as they are not involved through any Member Organization. But there are really good benefits for DMs – for example, DMs get a discount for conference registration for Prague, but there’s an EXTRA discount, available ONLY to Direct Members, if they register before 19th February 2013. That’s a really good deal, and more than covers the cost of the membership itself. To find out more go to our membership page.