From the CEO: Chennai over, Taiwan coming and more

August was another busy month for the Secretariat, though by the time you read this I hope to be basking in the Cyprus sunshine for a couple of weeks of rest and relaxation, before a busy final quarter of the year.

International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA)

I was in Taipei at the beginning of August, to attend the General Assembly of the IFMSA. WONCA has had a Memorandum of Understanding with IFMSA for several years, and we had agreed a new MOU covering the next three years. IFMSA, like WONCA’s own Young Doctors’ Movements, are massively energetic and enthusiastic, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. As well as talking about WONCA (of course!) I also co-led a workshop on family violence, and I’m most grateful to Leo Pas (Chair of the WONCA SIG on Family Violence) and Jan Coles for the materials they provided to help me.

I also attended a session on research exchanges. Research is one of many areas where IFMSA wants to collaborate more closely with WONCA, and Professor Waris Qidwai, Chair of the WONCA Working Party on Research, has responded very positively to requests from IFMSA for WONCA involvement in mentorship. In fact many of our Chairs of Working Parties and SIGs have responded really positively to the MOU, and want to engage fully with IFMSA in whatever way they can, and I thank them for that. The medical students – like our young doctors – are the future of our profession, and we need to encourage and nurture them, and convince them of the benefits of a career in family medicine

Taipei Conference 2015


WONCA CEO Garth Manning (centre) with members of the Taiwan HOC - (l to r) Dr Brian Chang, Prof Ching-Yu Chen, Prof Tai-Yuan Chiu, Ms Phoebe Peng, Dr Steve Shih-Tzu Tsai

Whilst I was in Taiwan I also met with the Host Organizing Committee (HOC) for the 2015 Asia Pacific Region conference, which will be held in Taipei from 4th to 8th March 2015. An excellent programme has been arranged, with the theme “Family Medicine: New Horizons and Challenges”. The abstract deadline has just been put back until 1st October, so there is still time to submit an abstract to the Scientific Committee. Abstracts can be submitted on line.

The Chinese Taipei Association of Family Medicine has also very generously made available a number of scholarships through the Taiwan Family Medicine Research Awards (TFMRA). They wish to encourage junior and emerging researchers to attend WONCA conferences to present their research and have made three awards available (each of $1,000) to support travel to Taipei to present his/her paper at the WONCA Asia Pacific Regional Conference. A further two awards (each of $1,500) will also be made to support attendance at Rio in 2016. This is a really generous offer from our colleagues in Taipei and we are most grateful to them for their support. Full details of eligibility and how to apply will be published in WONCA News.

South Asia Region Conference - August 2014

August also saw the South Asia Region conference in Chennai, India, on 16th and 17th August, which I attended along with Michael Kidd and Pratap Prasad (WONCA South Asia Region President). This conference was jointly organised by our three Indian Member Organizations – Indian Medical Association College of GPs (IMACGP), the Federation of Family Physicians Associations of India (FFPAI) and the Academy of Family Physicians of India (AFPI). It was fantastic to see the three organizations collaborating so closely on what was a great conference, and our congratulations go to Dr K Abul Hasan and the rest of the HOC for such a successful event. The key message was that young doctors need to be encouraged into family medicine by choice, and not by chance, which I thought was a really good way of expressing the situation.

There were many highlights during the conference, but of especial note was the contribution of Spice Route – the Young Doctors Movement for the South Asia Region. Spice Route is really starting to take off in South Asia, under the dynamic chairmanship of Raman Kumar, and it hopes to have a pre-conference meeting next year in Dhaka, just ahead of the South Asia Region conference on 13th and 14th February 2015. Spice Route will also benefit from an extremely generous annual donation offered by Drs Ramnik and Jyoti Parekh (pictured) who have pledged 100,000 rupees annually (about $1,700) to Spice Route through an award scheme.

Life Direct Membership

Whilst at the South Asia Conference Ramnik and Jyoti also signed up for Life Direct Membership – our first married couple to do so. (pictured at right, having signed up, with Garth Manning and Michael Kidd) We now have 20 Life Direct Members, who are supporting the work of WONCA through their gift of $750 each, and whose names appear on a roll of honour on the website. Please do consider joining WONCA directly as a Life Member – not only are you supporting the excellent work that we are doing, but you also benefit from discounts on all WONCA conferences and publications. Further details of how to apply can be found online.

Men’s Health

Finally for this month let me return to the topic of men’s health. Last month I mentioned that we would very much like to establish a Special Interest Group on men’s health. Several people have already contacted me to express an interest, but we need more, so if anyone else would be interested in starting this SIG then please contact me on ceo@wonca.net.

Dr Garth Manning