WONCA in brief

What’s in a name? “WONCA” explained

WONCA is an unusual, yet convenient acronym comprising the first five initials of the World Organization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians. WONCA’s short name is World Organization of Family Doctors.

What is WONCA’s mission?

The Mission of WONCA is to improve the quality of life of the peoples of the world through defining and promoting its values, including respect for universal human rights and including gender equity, and by fostering high standards of care in general practice/family medicine by:

  • promoting personal, comprehensive and continuing care for the individual and the family in the context of the community and society;
  • promoting equity through the equitable treatment, inclusion and meaningful advancement of all groups of people, particularly women and girls, in the context of all health care and other societal initiatives;
  • encouraging and supporting the development of academic organizations of general practitioners/family physicians;
  • providing a forum for exchange of knowledge and information between Member Organizations and between general practitioners/family physicians; and
  • representing the policies and the educational, research and service provision activities of general practitioners/family physicians to other world organizations and forums concerned with health and medical care.

Who is WONCA?

Download WONCA by-laws

The World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) is a not-for-profit organization and was founded in 1972 by member organizations in 18 countries. WONCA now has 126 Member Organizations in 102 countries with membership of about 300,000 family doctors and more than 90 per cent of the world’s population. This includes eight organizations in collaborative relations with WONCA. There are some 50 members in the Academic membership category, which consists of Academic Departments of Family Medicine. Some 1500 individual general practitioners and family physicians have chose to join WONCA in their own right. Membership of WONCA.

WONCA represents and acts as an advocate for its constituent members at an international level where it interacts with world bodies such as the World Health Organization, with whom it has official relations as a non-governmental organization and is engaged in a number of collaborative projects. The WONCA World Secretariat has been located in Singapore since May 2001.

WONCA Structure

WONCA’s Council

WONCA is governed by a World Council that meets once every three years just before the world conference. The Council comprises the representatives of member organizations and the officers of WONCA.

Committees of WONCA Council  WONCA’s Council appoints a number of committees every three years. List of WONCA statutory committees and their members

WONCA Executive Committee

The Council elects an Executive Committee that consists of the President, President-Elect, three Members-at-Large, and a Regional President from each of the seven regions (Africa, Asia Pacific, East Mediterranean, Europe, Iberoamericana, North America, and South Asia). The Chief Executive Officer is a member of Executive. The Executive Committee meets twice yearly and has full authority to act for and on behalf of the World Council between meetings of the Council. The Core Executive is a subset of the Executive and is made up of the President, President-Elect, CEO, and Honorary Treasurer. It meets monthly by teleconference and in person whenever possible. WONCA conducts its work through its statutory committees, Working Parties, and Special Interest Groups (SIGs).

WONCA ‘groups’

WONCA has a number of Working Parties, Special Interest Groups and Young Doctors’ movements that work between world council meetings to progress specific areas of interest to WONCA and its members around the globe. These groups comprise hundreds of family doctors who meet three yearly, sometimes more often, and in between work by correspondence. Over the years they have carried out groundbreaking studies and research, and have produced a variety of important publications.


WONCA regions and member organizations

WONCA has seven regions, each of which has their own regional Council and run their own regional activities including conferences.

WONCA History

In 2012, Dr Alfred Loh,as retiring CEO of WONCA, wrote a report on activities from 2001-2012. CEO Final report October 2012.pdf
In 2001, Prof Wes Fabb, as retiring CEO of WONCA, wrote a 20 year perspective of WONCA.

Past Presidents of WONCA

  • Dr Montague O Kent-Hughes (Deceased), Australia.1972-1974
  • Donald I Rice CM MD, (Deceased),Canada. 1974-1976
  • Dr Stuart J Carne, CBE, United Kingdom. 1976-1978
  • Dr Edward Kowalewski (Deceased), USA.1978-1980
  • Dr Arthur Hofmans (Deceased), Netherlands. 1981-1983
  • Dr David A Game, AO KSJ, Australia. 1983-1986
  • Dr M K Rajakumar (Deceased), Malaysia, 1986-1989
  • Donald W Rae, OC MD (Deceased), Canada.1989-1992
  • Dr Peter C Y Lee, Hong Kong.1992-1995
  • Göran Sjönell, MD PhD, Sweden. 1995-1998
  • Robert W Higgins MD, USA. 1998-2001
  • Dr Michael Boland, Ireland. 2001-2004
  • Professor Bruce L W Sparks, South Africa. 2004–2007
  • Professor Chris van Weel, Netherlands. 2007–2010

The WONCA President

About the President

Prof Richard Roberts (USA)

Richard G Roberts, MD, JD, FAAFP, FCLM, is a professor and past chair in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health in Madison. Since 1987, Prof Roberts has practiced as a family doctor, in Belleville, a rural community of 1900 people. Also an attorney, Professor Roberts continues to be a busy family doctor caring for patients of all ages. At the international level, Prof Roberts is President of World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA). For ten years, he served on and chaired the WONCA Working Party on Quality in Family Medicine. He serves…


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