The 2017 World Summit on Rural Generalist Medicine was a resounding success. Held in Cairns on April 28, the fully-booked Summit was packed with national and international delegates keen to focus on practical action for the advancement of rural general medicine.
Co-Chair Professor Richard Murray opened with a reiteration of the importance of focusing on rural generalist training pathways and research to achieve universal health coverage by 2030, and reminded the audience that:
- a rural generalist is a professional who offers comprehensive primary and emergency care to the community; and
- Rural Generalist Medicine is a distinct scope of medical practice.
Richard acknowledged the contribution of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and the Society of Rural Physicians Canada (SRPC) to rural generalism. Dr Braam de Klerk discussed the challenges and joys experienced by rural general practitioners.
The disparity of healthcare equity around the globe was discussed, and while Richard noted that Australia’s recruitment of doctors, both nationally and internationally, has resulted in a major improvement in the doctor/patient ratio in Australia, it has not translated into more doctors practising in rural and remote areas due to increases in doctor sub-specialisation in major cities. Therefore, the Rural Generalist Pathway remains the most robust approach to the address the lack of doctors outside urban areas in Australia.
Lachlan McIver also discussed equity between countries in relation to the Global Workforce Strategy, developed by the World Health Organisation for 2030 that “makes explicit the need to support, enable and strengthen rural primary care systems to achieve universal health coverage, and implies that Rural Generalist Medicine systems would be the most efficient and effective way to achieve that.”
James Reid, Mayara Floss, John Wynn-Jones and ACRRM President Ruth Stewart, talked about the need for engagement to drive change and growth in Rural Generalist Medicine. Ruth said the implementation of the Rural Generalist Model attracts and retains a rural workforce that is good value for money and provides quality care for the community; however governmental and professional recognition, a rural pipeline and the support of the community and professional peers were necessary to ensure continued growth.
A highlight and historic moment of the Summit was the launch of the Rural Generalist Program in Japan (RGJP). Manabu Saito, Director, Rural Generalist Program Japan, explained that with over 400 islands in the Japanese archipelago it is hard to find locums with enough experience to work in remote communities. Manabu started the first steps toward the RGJP with ACRRM in May 2015. The program is now accredited by ACRRM and is currently in the process of recruiting supervisors and teachers who are interested in working in rural areas in Japan.
A catalogue of presentation videos from the Summit is available for viewing at https://webcast.gigtv.com.au/Mediasite/Catalog/catalogs/wsrgm-2017
The 2017 World Summit was proudly supported by Queensland Rural Generalist Pathway.