New World Health Organization Collaborating Centre will Strengthen Family Medicine around the World

Oct 2, 2018

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated the University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) as the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Family Medicine and Primary Care.

The Centre is the first of its kind in the world to have a specific focus on family medicine, and one of few in the world with a focus on primary care and primary health careImage of DFCM residents in Addis Ababa, EthiopiaToronto Addis Ababa Academic Collaboration in Family Medicine residents and faculty in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia . The directors of the Centre are Dr. Michael Kidd and Dr. Katherine Rouleau.

“This recognition reflects the depth and richness of our academic department and our reputation as an international leader in family medicine and primary care education and research,” says DFCM Chair, Dr. Michael Kidd. “This department has always had a global reach; however, this designation will allow us to increase our contributions to the health and well-being of people all around the world.”

WHO Collaborating Centres are designated by the WHO Director-General to carry out activities in support of the global health programs of the WHO.

The WHO Collaborating Centre on Family Medicine and Primary Care will assist the WHO in researching, evaluating and strengthening family medicine and primary care at a global level and in countries around the world. The Centre’s primary WHO regional partner is the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), which is responsible for health across the Americas.

“Research has shown that health systems anchored in strong primary care and family medicine deliver better outcomes, are more cost-efficient and enhance equity in high, middle and low-income countries,” says Dr. Katherine Rouleau, DFCM Vice-Chair of Global Health and Social Accountability. “Through this Centre we will build on our department’s work in areas such as quality improvement, team-based care, community and patient engagement, and family medicine training, to name a few, to work together with Canadian and international partners in finding more effective and efficient ways to deliver excellent primary care for all, especially the world’s most vulnerable people.”

The designation of the new WHO Collaborating Centre on Family Medicine and Primary Care is particularly meaningful as it coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Declaration of Alma-Ata, which, in 1978, launched the movement for health for all people based on strong primary health care.

“The Declaration of Alma-Ata was a landmark document highlighting the central role of primary health care to achieve health for all, rooted in a commitment to health as a human right and in principles of social justice and solidarity, all of which are just as important today,” says Dr. Rouleau.

A new declaration, that will reaffirm the global commitment of all nations to Primary Health Care and the principles of the Declaration of Alma Ata, will be considered in October 2018 at the Global Conference on Primary Health Care to be held in Astana in Kazakhstan. The conference is hosted by the WHO, UNICEF and the Government of Kazakhstan, and will bring together Ministers of Health and other leaders from countries across the world to renew their commitment to primary health care and achieving universal health coverage. Dr. Kidd and Dr. Rouleau are among the invited guests at this conference.

“Through this new WHO Collaborating Centre, we look forward to future collaborative endeavours with our colleagues at the WHO and PAHO in strengthening primary care to benefit people all around the world,” says Dr. Kidd.