From the CEO’s desk: conferences recent & future, & season's greetings

CEO Garth Manning (standing) at the South Asia Region (SAR) conference in Nepal with (from l to r) Raman Kumar (WONCA SAR president-elect), Nongluck Suwisith (WONCA Manager), Pratap Prasad (immed past WONCA SAR president), Amanda Howe (WONCA President), Kanu Bala (WONCA SAR President)

As forecast in last month’s column, November has been a month of conferences and conference activities.

WONCA Asia Pacific Region Conference - Pattaya, Thailand

Straight after the WONCA Executive meeting in Bangkok in late October the majority of Executive headed east, to the seaside resort of Pattaya, to take part in the WONCA Asia Pacific Region (APR) conference from 1st to 4th November. The event was hosted jointly by the Royal College of Family Physicians of Thailand and the GP Association of Thailand.

Prior to the conference itself, The Rajakumar Movement – the young doctor movement for WONCA APR – held a pre-conference event on 31st October. There was an incredible attendance, and Shin Yoshida and his committee deserve enormous praise for putting together such a successful and popular event.

On 31st October WONCA APR also held its Council meeting, and we were delighted to welcome a representative from Laos to the meeting. Laos is not yet a member of WONCA, but we hope that these initial steps, in supporting our Lao colleagues, will result in their joining in due course. At the meeting, bids for the WONCA APR 2020 conference were made, and congratulations are due to the Royal New Zealand College of GPs who won the right to hold the conference in Auckland in March 2020.

On then to the main conference itself, which was held in a beautiful cliff top resort overlooking Pattaya bay. The programme itself was well constructed and stimulating, with a variety of sessions on a whole host of topics. Our Working Party on Education, led by Prof Val Wass, led several sessions on educational topics, and Val reported more fully in last month’s WONCA News.

There will be no APR conference in 2018, as the world conference will be held in Korea, (in the APR region) but we look forward very much to the next regional event in Kyoto, Japan, in May 2019.

WONCA South Asia Region Conference - Kathmandu, Nepal

Whilst the start of the month had seen us in Thailand, the end of the month saw us in Kathmandu, at the WONCA South Asia Region (SAR) meeting hosted by GPAN – the GP Association of Nepal. I was fortunate to attend The Spice Route (WONCA SAR young doctor movement) preconference on 24th November, which had a number of very inspiring presentations from young Nepalese family doctors.

Nepal is a very rural country, with many isolated communities, and the Government of Nepal has very explicitly based its main health delivery in district hospitals on provision by well-trained family medicine graduates – those holding the MDGP qualification. As well as more mainstream GP training, Nepalese doctors also undertake training in emergency obstetric care and emergency surgery, and so a well-trained specialist GP can do the work of perhaps four other specialists. A number of the presentations were of some of the really fantastic work that these specialist GPs are undertaking in their communities, offering enhanced care to populations previously very isolated and under-served.

The main conference took place on 25th and 26th November, with a total of 440 delegates registered. The HOC had put together a very interesting programme, with plenaries and two parallel streams of sessions, all of which were extremely well attended. Of course there was a very active social programme as well, and a really good time was had by all who were privileged to attend.

WONCA SAR Council also held a meeting on 26th November and were delighted to welcome to the meeting the Pakistan Society of Family Physicians, which had just had their upgrade to full membership endorsed by WONCA Executive, and the Department of General Practice of Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences Bhutan (KGUMSB) which had just been admitted to WONCA Academic Membership. There will be no WONCA SAR regional conference in 2018, as the WONCA Rural Health conference is planned for Delhi in April 2018, but the 2019 conference was awarded to the Pakistan Society of Family Physicians, to be held in Lahore, Pakistan, on dates to be confirmed.

WONCA World Conference 2018 – Seoul, Korea

To add to an extremely busy month for conferences, I also returned to Seoul for further meetings with the Host Organizing Committee (HOC) and Professional Conference Organizers (PCO) for the WONCA World event in October 2018. Plans for the conference are advancing well; dates of particular note include:

-Deadline for submissions for workshops and seminars is 31st December 2017.

-Deadline for abstract submission is 28th February 2018.

-Deadline for early Bird registration is 31st March 2018.

Lots more details can be found on the conference website.

The venue for the WONCA Executive meeting, the meeting of WONCA Regional Councils and the WONCA World Council meeting has now been confirmed. Rather than holding these meetings in Seoul itself, they will all be held at the Sheraton Hotel in Incheon. Incheon is the region where the international airport is situated, and the hotel is only around 20 minutes by road from the airport. Facilities are excellent, and there are many hotels in the area to suit all pockets. More details will be provided nearer the time, but you can also go to the hotel website.

A few members have contacted us about the political issues in the Asia Pacific region and whether this will impact on the Seoul conference. Our position is one of ‘pragmatic optimism’ and we remain confident that the conference will go ahead as planned. Even if the conference were to be cancelled, on government advice, all registration costs will be refunded, so there is no financial risk, and there are many beautiful places in and around South Korea to visit. We therefore hope very much that you will continue to support our Korean colleagues, and plan your CPD and holidays around Seoul in October 2018!

Of course, the winter Olympics are also scheduled to take place in Korea in February 2018, and this will demonstrate clearly that it is “business as usual” in the country.

Season’s Greetings

Finally, this is the last WONCA News for 2017, with the next edition not due until the beginning of February 2018. The CEO and Secretariat wish all our members the compliments of the season, and a very happy, prosperous and successful 2018.

Garth Manning

Garth is this month's WONCA featured doctor .