WONCA E-Update 2020

Friday 16th October 2020

WONCA News – October 2020
October’s WONCA News has been published and is now available online. It can be accessed here

WONCA & Family Docs, best partners for health system revival
Dr Charles Boelen, MD, is an international consultant in health system and personnel, former coordinator of the WHO (Geneva office) program of human resources for health and president of RIFRESS. He also had a significant input into establishing the WONCA Five Star Doctor Global Award for Excellence. This month’s WONCA News features a guest article by Charles looking at the role of family doctors in health systems strengthening and social accountability.  

Friday 25th September 2020

WONCA News – September 2020
September’s WONCA News has been published and is now available online. Access it now at here 

WONCA Webinars – new series.
A new series of WONCA webinars has commenced. Last Sunday (20th September) we had an excellent webinar hosted by SIG on Health Equity, which be viewed on YouTube.

Friday 18th September 2020

WONCA News – September 2020

September’s WONCA News has been published and is now available online. Access it now at here  

Karen Flegg: 100 not out

The current edition of WONCA News is the 100th edition produced by Karen Flegg as WONCA editor. To celebrate she has shared some of her favourite stories, favourite people and favourite photos, in anticipation of handing over the WONCA editorship at the end of 2020. In May, it was also her 10-year anniversary as the editor, having taken over from Dr Mark Rivo, at the 2010 World Council meeting held at the time of the world conference in Cancun, Mexico. She is now the second longest serving WONCA editor, after Dr David Game, our first editor, a fellow Australian (and also a past president of WONCA), who she had the privilege to interview back in 2012.

Friday 31st July 2020

WONCA News – July 2020

The July WONCA News is now available online. Access it now here 


Statement of Support for WHO

WHO has come under attack from various quarters of late, linked to its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. WONCA, like many other global organizations, accepts that it has not got everything right, but also believes that there is an overwhelming need for one strong global agency to be responsible for health. In this light, WONCA was pleased to issue a statement in support of WHO, which can be read online.

Friday 24th July 2020

WONCA News – July 2020

The July WONCA News is now available online. Access it now here 

From the President: Postponement of WONCA Abu Dhabi 2020

This month Dr Donald Li explains the background to the decision to postpone our planned WONCA World Council and conference in Abu Dhabi by 12 months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In his article he pays tribute to the support received from our Member Organizations – not just on this issue but for their ongoing support and collegiality throughout the years.

Friday 3rd July 2020

WONCA News – June 2020

The June WONCA News is still available online. Access here  

URGENT: Abu Dhabi Council and conference postponed by 12 months
After significant discussions with key players, and after consultation with Executive, Member Organizations and others, Executive have reluctantly had to take the decision to POSTPONE the Abu Dhabi Council and conference by 12 months. The event will now take place in November 2021. Linked to this, the Sydney Council and conference has also been postponed from 2022 to 2023. Further details can be found here.

Friday 19th June 2020

WONCA News – June 2020

The June WONCA News is now available online. Access here 


From the President: June 2020

“The WONCA Executive usually meets face to face twice a year, with monthly teleconferences in between each meeting. While the virtual meetings are useful to process normal business, we rely on the face to face meetings to discuss bigger, broader, issues of more complexity. Especially when some of those on Executive sit for only one two-year term, the face to face meetings are crucial to build understanding of the organization and of each other’s regions”.

Read more from our President, Dr Donald Li, in his June column at this link

Friday 5th June 2020

WONCA News – May 2020

The May WONCA News is still available online pending arrival of the June edition (June 12th). Access on line

Dr Donald Li – interview with BJGP Open

Our President, Dr Donald Li, was interviewed recently by Professor Domhnall MacAuley, Editor of the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP). Donald, a practicing GP, talks about the current situation in Hong Kong and the challenges ahead. There have been almost no new cases, excluding imported disease, in recent weeks but 14-day quarantine on arrival in country remains in place. He also discusses the wider “mission” for primary care and family doctors worldwide.

Postponement of Council and Conference

WONCA Member Organizations

4th June 2020

Dear Colleagues


These are extraordinary and exceptional times, and I’m quite sure that you will have been wondering what effects COVID-19 might have on the Abu Dhabi Council and conference. As you can imagine, it has been a challenging time for the WONCA Executive as they battle with a whole series of options regarding Abu Dhabi in November. We thought that we should now consult our Member Organizations (MOs) and seek YOUR views on the best way to proceed, to ensure continuing good governance of the organization whist still protecting our individual members.  

President, President elect, CEO-designate and I have been in regular contact with both the Host Organizing Committee (HOC) and the Professional Conference Organizers (PCO) for Abu Dhabi. UAE went into significant lockdown for a time, but plans continued for a great WONCA conference, and there were also regular meetings of the Scientific Committee to finalise the programme. UAE is now starting to return to a degree of normality, and the government is keen to get tourism started again, so flights are re-commencing, and hotels opening, from mid-June.

However that – inevitably – is not the whole story. As I write, many countries still have significant restrictions, and few flights are operating. Many institutions have barred their staff from international travel for the rest of 2020. And even if people were able to leave their home countries, they then face a period of quarantine on their return. Thus, we must assume that many members will decline to travel, at least for the foreseeable future. In fact, Executive, at its recent meeting, discussed this very issue and the majority of Executive indicated they would NOT be in a position to travel to Abu Dhabi.

To meet its quorum, WONCA Council requires over half of the Executive (at least 7) to be present in person, and 2/3 of the MOs either present in person or represented by a proxy. Thus at least 40 MOs would have to be present, each holding no more than the permitted one proxy. I have to tell you that Executive has therefore reluctantly had to conclude that it may NOT be possible to run a Council in November which would have the attendance necessary to meet the quorum eligibility. 

The conference is a slightly different issue. One of the many joys of WONCA events is the opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones, and to network with members of our global community. Sadly, for now that will not be an option for most, and we are having to consider a number of different options, including a virtual event. After discussion with the HOC and PCO for the Abu Dhabi event the shared recommendation is to POSTPONE both Council and conference until October or November 2021.

Essentially we have come down to two main options:

1.  We can proceed on schedule for November 2020 with a hybrid in-person and virtual council and conference:

a.   Rationale – no change in schedule and allows officer elections to take place.
b.  Implications – challenging to arrange; no guarantee of a quorum, thus any decisions made may not be eligible; danger of disenfranchising MOs who might not be able to take part for a variety of reasons (poor internet connectivity; time zone anomalies etc); elections difficult to oversee and scrutinize for probity and validity. Virtual conference may well not be attractive to many potential delegates.

2.   Postponing Abu Dhabi for up to 12 months, with both Council and conference taking place in October or November 2021. This option has been bolstered by a conversation with Royal Australian College of GPs (organizers of Sydney 2022) who have indicated that they would be willing to postpone until October 2023. 

a.   Rationale – a deferral of everything for 12 months, but after that the normal two-year cycle can be re-established (2021; 2023; 2025 etc). Council can be held with conference (in accordance with Bylaw Article 10.1.3). Opportunity to conduct business with all (or nearly all) members present. Elections can be held in an open and secure and robust manner. Region Councils can choose whether to extend their current president (if he/she is eligible) or to give the new incumbent a three-year cycle. All other officers can serve a full two-year term.
b.   Implications – 

i.   Region Councils can choose whether to extend the term of their current president (if he/she is eligible) to 2021 or to give the new incumbent a three-year cycle (i.e., from 2020 to 2023). The decision of each region can be ratified by Executive.  
ii.   Members at Large and YDM rep would have to decide whether to extend their time on Executive for a third year (i.e. until 2021) or whether to resign and open up the positions for one year under Bylaw Article 12.8.2.
iii.  All other officers, who will be elected in 2021, can serve the full two-year term in an ordinary manner until 2023.

We would, at this stage, greatly value the views of our MOs as to what they consider best. Would you and your delegates and members be prepared to travel to Abu Dhabi in November 2020? Should Council go ahead, in whatever form we can manage, with the risk of not achieving a quorum, or is postponement a better option? What are your thoughts on a hybrid conference – would that be attractive to you and your members? I really would be grateful to receive your thoughts, opinions – and even suggestions, most especially on the issues of:

  • Option 1 - Proceed on schedule in November 2020 with hybrid virtual Council and conference (for most)

  • Option 2 - Postponement of Council and conference to October/November 2021 in Abu Dhabi, with postponement of 2022 event in Sydney by 12 months to October 2023.

Deadline for submissions is Monday 15th June; we thank you for your consideration of these issues. Executive will meet again to consider your responses and if indicated we may come back with further consultations. 

With best regards,

Dr Garth Manning
Chief Executive Officer

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