From October 17 to 21, 2018, the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) held its 22nd World Conference in Seoul, South Korea, where more than 5000 family doctors and residents from all around the world convened. WONCA is an association of 118 national Member Organizations, including the College of Family Physicians of Canada, which was well represented in Seoul by many members of its Board of Directors and by clinician-teachers/researchers from various Canadian universities. Two members of the McGill Department of Family Medicine attended the conference: Dr. Pierre-Paul Tellier, associate professor and physician at the CLSC Cote-des-Neiges, and Dr. Catherine Ji, recent graduate of the St-Mary’s residency stream and Clinician Scholar Fellowship and current MSc student in Family Medicine.
Similarly to the Family Medicine Forum, the WONCA Conference gives a platform for participants to present clinical pearls, research projects and education initiatives, and fosters collaboration through Special Interest Groups and Working Parties. Dr. Tellier presented a workshop on “Health issues of Sexual Minorities and Human Rights”, and Dr. Ji gave an oral presentation on her master’s thesis project on community health workers and the management of non-communicable diseases in Brazil.
What makes the WONCA Conference unique, however, is the international perspectives it brings to the specialty of family medicine. It was an enriching experience to connect and share with this global community passionate about the common goal of advancing family medicine and primary care worldwide. Being reminded of how different the training, clinical practice and roles of family doctors in the healthcare system are, and how variable the definition of family medicine itself is from one country to another was quite humbling. We are lucky to have such a strong and well-defined family medicine specialty in Canada, but it is still not the case in many other regions around the world. For this reason, WONCA’s role to advocate for the expansion of rigorous family medicine training, and high-quality, comprehensive and interdisciplinary community-based practice to ensure strong primary health care (PHC) systems is so important. This mission relies on WONCA’s members’ excellent research and clinical work, and international collaborations, to which our Department is very well placed to contribute!
Overall, we really appreciated this conference and encourage you to learn more about WONCA and its Working Parties, Special Interest Groups and Young Doctors’ Movement (for medical students, residents and early-career family physicians).
This summary was provided by Dr. Catherine Ji, MD, CCFP.