From the CEO’s Desk: March 2014

Greetings again from Bangkok. Yet another month flies by – where does the time go? This month I want particularly to focus on my recent meetings with Member Organizations, the WHO Executive Board meeting, a significant health policy conference in Thailand and our continuing promotion of WONCA Direct Membership.

Meetings with Member Organizations

In early February I was in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to attend the annual conference of the Bangladesh Academy of Family Physicians (BAFP) and to deliver the inaugural Professor Nural Islam Memorial Lecture. Professor Islam was National Professor and a giant of Bangladeshi medicine. He had received many national and international honours, many related to his stance against tobacco, and he was a strong proponent of family medicine. BAFP, together with the Bangladesh College of GPs (BCGP) will be hosting the 2015 South Asia Region conference, and I also had a chance to sit with both groups to discuss their plans.

From Bangladesh I then travelled to Myanmar, to take part in a seminar and workshop organized by the Society of GPs of the Myanmar Medical Association. The Society are working to improve the training and standards of family medicine, with the aim of establishing a College of Family Medicine in Myanmar. Amanda Howe, Dada Leopando and Daniel Thuraiappah were also there, along with colleagues from RCGP and from several USA institutions. Congratulations to Drs Tin Aye and Myint Oo for the excellent work they have accomplished so far, and we will do what we can to continue to support their endeavours.

WHO Executive Board

WONCA’s WHO Liaison, Dr Luisa Pettigrew, has written elsewhere in this issue about the WHO EB meeting, to provide information and feedback to all our members on the valuable collaborations we have with WHO, and I highly recommend her report to you. The links with WHO are extremely highly valued by our members, and we are collaborating more and more with WHO, especially through various Working Parties, and it’s good to hear more about some of the great work that is going on.

Prince Mahidol Award Conference

Dr John Wynn-Jones also reports on the Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC), held each year in Thailand to honour Prince Mahidol, the father of modern family medicine in the Kingdom. The conference is held annually, focusing on a policy-related health issue of global significance. It is an international policy forum that Global Health Institutes, both public and private, can co-own and use for advocacy and for seeking international perspectives on important global health issues

The theme of this year’s conference was “Transformative Learning for Health Equity” and there were many fascinating presentations, with a most prestigious line-up of speakers including Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, Julio Frenk, Dean of Harvard School of Public Health, and many other key academics and policymakers. I was there, along with John Wynn Jones and Professors Ian Couper and Roger Strasser of the WONCA Working Party on Rural Health. The announcement for next year’s conference has just been received. The theme for 2015 is “Global health post-2015: accelerating equity” and abstracts are being sought, with a deadline of Friday 28th March. More details about the PMAC conference can be found online

Direct Membership

We have also started on a concerted promotion of Direct Membership, and especially Life Direct Membership. I have mentioned this before, but make no apology for returning to the subject. We are trying to encourage as many WONCA members as possible to connect more directly with us through Direct Membership (DM). We have written to all our Member Organizations asking them to highlight this promotion to their members, and have been most gratified by the very positive response we have had from them so far. We are trying to connect much more regularly with our MOs, and we want to encourage greater two-way communication, so that they too let us know of their organizations’ conferences and events, which we are then able to advertise to a wider audience through the WONCA website. This two-way link is thus a great way to strengthen the bonds between us all.

Life Direct Membership, as I have mentioned before, is a new category of membership which provides the opportunity for individuals to make a special gift to the World Organisation of Family Doctors in return for waiver of annual direct membership renewal requirements. Life Direct Member status is open to any health professional who has an interest in supporting the vision, mission and goals of WONCA. The contribution level required for Life Direct Member status is a minimum of US $750. Life Members receive the same benefits as Individual Direct Members.

Our thanks to the first three members to sign up for life:

  • Dr Gene Tsoi of Hong Kong (LDM 001)
  • Professor Nabil Alkurashi of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (LDM 002)
  • Dr Matie Obazee of Nigeria (LDM 003)

We hope that many more members will take the opportunity to sign up in support of World WONCA. For more details of how to apply, please go to the WONCA website.

WONCA Conferences

Finally a brief reminder about forthcoming WONCA conferences in 2014:

  • WONCA Rural Health conference in Gramado, Brazil, from April 2-6.
  • WONCA Asia Pacific Region conference in Kuching, Malaysia, from May 21-24
  • WONCA Europe Region conference in Lisbon, Portugal, from July 2-5
  • WONCA South Asia Region conference in Chennai, India, on August 16-17.

Further details are, as ever, on the WONCA website conference page.

And 2015 will feature many other great conferences including Dhaka, Bangladesh (February); Accra, Ghana (February); Taipei, Taiwan (March); Istanbul, Turkey (October); and the rural health conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia in April.

Until next month.

Dr Garth Manning
CEO