An interview with Prof Mehmet Ungan on the latest eddition of the Swedish Journal of General Practice. The link to journal as well as a translation with Google Translate is available below:
WONCA President Mehmet Ungan is forced to cancel conferences
Mehmet Ungan, President of WONCA Europe, with EGPRN Gothenburg in May and Berlin Conference in June moved - is this the world's downfall?
Covid-19 is changing us, but of course the world is not going down. However, health goes first and all conferences in WONCA Europe's family are moved.
WONCA has strong IT, good staff and research networks and now there are alternatives to traditional conferences in the form of virtual and digital meetings but also hybrid conferences where we mix. Everything is possible!
When will WONCA Europe's next conference be?
December 17-19, 2020 in Berlin. It will be time for reflection on the most difficult human crisis since the Second World War. The conference is shrinked down from four to three days. We conduct all already approved workshops of networks and special interest groups. You will be able to edit accepted abstracts. Hopefully, then all primary care heroes will be celebrated. We are first and last in care!
What are you doing as president of WONCA?
I work with core issues together with diligent colleagues in a real teamwork - sometimes too slow - I'm a little hyperactive.
We have lowered social media and web costs through a smart IT system for membership data and future information. We have web-based courses and a webinar in April with colleagues who have had covid-19.
Up until the covid crisis, I traveled to support members to use WONCA as much as they can to promote family medicine!
Since traveling has ceased, I work almost exclusively web-based with the conference and WONCA Europe's future plan 2019-2022. I give online lectures in Ankara University's digital system and write a 25-year anniversary book for family medicine. In addition, I have contact with regional WHO so that the "general practice" perspective is not lost in the fight against covid-19.
What is your message to Swedish general practitioners?
That you continue to treat your patients and protect your population during the covid-19 pandemic. You are leaders and role models for the public!
But family physicians should not only be in the front line of the battlefield, but should also be part of the brain trust behind the fight against this invisible enemy. The hospital perspective is not enough. By seriously including the family medicine that lives in the true, vulnerable and unclear reality, we can contribute to sustainable solutions!
"Health Literacy" and "Digital Health" were WHO's priority for 2020. It has been defined several times over the last decade, but not so much has happened in this area as in the past 30 days (written April 6).
Many countries work with digital solutions of physical examinations. These are important alternatives in family medicine rather than home visits during these times. Even if you do not have the physical meeting that is the essence of a consultation, you minimize the risk for a doctor and patient in a pandemic. It overcomes the overload of care and the accumulation of sick people in hospitals to best serve the population.
What are your experiences from general practitioners in affected countries?
The pandemic has really hit the Mediterranean countries. Many work hard and in difficult conditions where the provision of protective equipment is a problem not least for family doctors and their teams. In many countries, both family physicians and other healthcare professionals die when they try to do their jobs.
Some illnesses affect us more than others and depend on our working conditions. Measures against "violence against health personnel" have been lifted and this is a phenomenon that we expect an increase in.
The measures against the pandemic have been delayed and the public reaction heterogeneous. Population structure and family structures are different as are social traditional contacts with body contact such as kissing, handshaking or hugging. Misuse of protective masks and other protective equipment also plays a role.
Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go to see the light in the tunnel. Even if the pandemic ends, it can lead to a social disaster. But every darkness is followed by a light.
We will again see beautiful sunny days if we use our senses and continue to follow science.