Newsletter 03
Dear GP/FM colleagues,
We are delighted to invite you to the
24th WONCA Europe Conference that will be held in Bratislava, Slovakia on June 26 - 29, 2019.

Early bird registration deadline ending soon!

Only few days left to register for the Early Registration fee. Register online now for getting lower fee. Reduced ‘Early Bird’ registration rates end on December 31, 2018.

Register now

Submit your abstract today!

Abstract Submission Deadline: January 10, 2019
The Scientific Committee invites and encourages all authors to submit their abstracts for consideration and inclusion in the Scientific Programme.

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Meet WONCA Europe 2019 Keynote Speakers

Read all about the Conference Keynote Speakers.

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Programme at a Glance

Programme at a glance is available.

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5x5 questions for Host Organizing Committee

Dr. Jana Bendová, PhD. member of the Scientific Committee, chief expert for general medicine at the Ministry of Health

Recently, you have become the chief expert for general medicine at the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic, with a broad support of the professionals in the field. Which solutions do you consider as today's most important ones?

I believe that an important priority consists in strengthening primary health care in Slovakia, in line with WHO and WONCA recommendations. For years, general medicine in Slovakia has been sidelined and its position in the healthcare system even deteriorated. We currently face not only a lack of general practitioners (a shortage of over 500 GPs) but also their adverse age structure (the average age is 56 years and more than a 21% of GPs are over 65 years). On the other hand, we cannot expect an improvement of this situation in the short term. The fact is that general medicine is very unattractive to medical graduates and the interest in entering a residential program is even declining. Therefore, radical steps need to be taken – to broaden the competencies of general practitioners, to improve the financing of general medicine and thus to make our specialty more attractive to current as well as future GPs.

How will eHealth help in general medicine humanisation – and will it help?

The eHealth project in Slovakia has been under preparation for 10 years and it started as of 1 January 2018. At the beginning, healthcare providers have had to tackle many technical, implementation and financial problems. These problems drew the attention of the physician away from their patients and drained their time and energy which they should have devoted to these patients. After 10 months of eHealth, we can say that it has begun to bring first benefits in the form of electronic prescriptions that no longer need to be printed. General practitioners issue most prescriptions from among all specialties, up to 57%, so they welcome this positive change very much. At the same time, electronic prescriptions contribute to patient safety. Repeated prescriptions are currently underway and have the potential to further streamline the work of the general practitioner and their nurses. The time saved by this functionality means more of the patient-doctor time thus for better quality of health care provided.

You have not resigned from your GP job in a rural area of western Slovakia. What impulses does everyday practice provide for solving the "big" problems of general medicine?

I am convinced that, in this function, it is also extremely important to have constant contact with practice and not just solve problems from the table. On the contrary, the everyday reality and the problems I encounter in my general practice motivate me a lot to act and to do everything possible to make the planned positive changes happen.

A general practitioner is at the beginning of patient care, a specialist at the very end. And, in your opinion, practical medicine is in the shadow. How can it come back to the place that it belongs to?

Naturally, general practitioners are the closest health care professional to their patients – they are very well accessible – geographically as well as from the point of view of time. General practitioners, especially the rural ones, are usually part of the community in which they live and at the same time they provide health care, they know their patient from all aspects and have a long-standing and trust-based relationship with them. The general practitioners want to take care of their communities as much as possible, in a comprehensive and continuous manner but unfortunately there are too many barriers for them to be able to do so. These barriers are artificial, diagnostic barriers and also treatment barriers. I would like to explain this with an example – general practitioners in Slovakia cannot prescribe the very basic examination for diabetes mellitus management – namely glycated haemoglobin. At the same time, GPs cannot provide the necessary care because they cannot prescribe anti-diabetic medications. This also goes for other chronic diseases, such as the ischemic heart disease, bronchial asthma, COPD...
My vision is to gradually move general medicine in Slovakia from the shadow to the bright sunlight, to approach to the standard of countries such as Denmark or the Netherlands, where general medicine is really the cornerstone of the health system and where general practitioners and their teams can solve more than 90% of patients´ concerns.

What does the human side of medicine mean to you personally?

To me, a general practitioner is not only a doctor, but also a psychologist, a social worker, and sometimes even a “priest” for his “sheep” – when he patiently listens to their “confessions” and it makes them feel relieved. After that, he does not have to issue either any prescriptions or any referral letters. Patients value their general practitioners not only because medication prescription but also for their advice – what to eat, how to exercise or how to stop smoking, or for example, for a suggestion to take a few days off. The relationship of general practitioners with their patients evolves over the years as they go with them through their serious and less serious illnesses, their divorces, their grieving over their relative´s deaths, as well as the cheerful moments of their lives. These all brings them closer together. Let us understand that our patients are not only “collections of diseases” but human beings. They do not only have their bodies but also their souls.

Bratislava Highlights - Volume 2

Martin’s Cathedral
A three-nave Gothic church from the 15th century and the former coronation church. A gilded replica of the coronation crown fixed on the top of the cathedral tower at a height of 85 metres and weighing 150 kg reminds of this glorious age.

Conference Secretariat

GUARANT International spol. s r.o.
Na Pankraci 17, 140 21 Prague 4, Czech Republic

Phone: +420 284 001 444
Fax: +420 284 001 448
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