From the President - August 2013
for more information see the President's blog.
It is an extraordinary honour to be elected to lead WONCA, our global organization that represents all of us, the family doctors of the world.
I know that I come to this role with the support of colleagues and friends from all over the world, and this reinforces for me the strong supportive culture among family doctors that flourishes within WONCA. I know that I am not alone in this role. The challenges we face in family medicine and general practice, we face together.
In the words of our very first WONCA president, another Australian, Dr Monty Kent Hughes, speaking to the first WONCA conference, held in my home town of Melbourne in 1972: “the future of our professional discipline will depend on our ability to work together in the service of humanity.”
And that’s what the members of the member organisations of WONCA have been doing ever since - working together to improve the quality of life of the people of the world through high quality family medicine.
WONCA has come a long way since 1972. We now have 118 Member Organisations representing over 400,000 family doctors in over 130 countries and territories around the world.
Over 400,000 family doctors, who each year have over 2 billion consultations with our patients. Two billion. That’s the scope of our current work and our influence.
As your president I will continue the tradition of being a strong vocal advocate for family medicine around the world.
With your support I will work with our member organisations to continue to expand the role of family medicine worldwide.
At our World Conference in Prague last month, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Margaret Chan, launched the new WONCA Guidebook on “The Contribution of Family Medicine to Improving Health Systems.” Our Guidebook is available through medical bookshops and online, and has been developed with the WHO to assist you to work with your national organization, your health system and your government, on the ways family medicine can strengthen your nation’s system of primary health care. Dr Chan also spoke at our conference with great passion about the importance of family doctors in health systems around the world. Read more
Primary health care is no longer a set of words; it is something you and I live and breathe every day. Everyone worldwide has a right to this care. Your new executive and I will be working tirelessly with you towards achieving universal coverage in each of our countries, and strengthening our important work with the World Health Organization at global and regional levels.
The young people of the world are our future, and I look forward to working with our young doctor groups to support our family medicine leaders of the future. At our World Conference, the Vasco da Gama Movement, the European young family doctor group, ran a wonderful program. And in Prague a new group was established for young family doctors in Africa.
I first became a part of the WONCA family 24 years ago when I attended my first WONCA world conference in Jerusalem in 1989. I was a family medicine trainee at the time and had my eyes opened to the great work family doctors from around the world were doing working together to make our world a better place. I invite you to become involved in the work that we do. Be active in your national college and your region, join one of our working parties, join one of our special interest groups, join us at our conferences, share your ideas and your energy and your passion. We must all reinforce the role of family medicine in providing high quality primary care to all people in each of our countries, especially those who are marginalised and the most vulnerable.
Connectedness is important and we need to find ways to engage everyone in our global family. At our World Conference last month, I announced the launch today of WONCA’s new social media platform. I invite you to join me, through the WONCA website, on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and discover new ways that we can work together to achieve our goals. Details are on our website: www.globalfamilydoctor.com
Our World Conference was a wonderful event and I thank the members and staff of the Czech Society of General Practice and president Svatopluk Byma, the chair of the conference organizing committee, Bohumil Seifert, and the chair of the scientific committee, Vaclav Benes, and all those who worked on making this such a successful event.
At our World Conference we thanked our outgoing WONCA executive members, who have served our organization with high energy and distinction over the past three years. In particular we thanked our now immediate past president, Richard Roberts. I have had the opportunity to watch Rich over the past three years as he set an impressive precedent crisscrossing the world working for WONCA and international primary care.
We also welcomed our new WONCA executive, including our new president-elect, Amanda Howe. Read more
I know I wouldn’t be in this position without the support of a great many people. I thank my family and my friends and colleagues at home in Australia for their continuing support. I thank my many family medicine mentors and colleagues who have provided me with guidance and advice over the years, and continue to do so. As a teacher, I thank my students and my family medicine trainees and research partners who test my viewpoints and help to keep me focused on the challenges of contemporary health care. And I thank my patients, who have taught me over the past 30 years how to be a better doctor and a better person.
Over the past couple of weeks I have commenced my work as WONCA president and have already visited our member organisations in China, Taiwan and New Zealand. If you wish, you can follow my global work for WONCA through our social media connections. In China, WONCA CEO, Garth Manning, and I, joined political and medical leaders in China, and leaders of WONCA member organisations from several countries, in a roundtable discussion on the development of general practice/family medicine in China. The health care reforms underway in China are extraordinary and are based on strengthening the family medicine workforce through education and training and a focus on quality care, to ensure every person in China has access to high quality primary care.
There is a golden opportunity right now for family medicine as the nations of our world wake up to the need to strengthen their systems of primary care and the role of family doctors and our teams to better meet the current and future health needs of all people.
I am sure the time is right for us to work together to seize the opportunity to make a difference. I look forward to working with you all over the coming three years.
World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA)