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Ann Fam Med. 2004 May 26;2 Suppl 2:S5-16.

Improving health care globally: a critical review of the necessity of family medicine research and recommendations to build research capacity.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, University Medical Centre Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


An invitational conference led by the World Organization of Family Doctors (Wonca) involving selected delegates from 34 countries was held in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, March 8 to 12, 2003. The conference theme was "Improving Health Globally: The Necessity of Family Medicine Research." Guiding conference discussions was the value that to improve health care worldwide, strong, evidence-based primary care is indispensable. Eight papers reviewed before the meeting formed the basic material from which the conference developed 9 recommendations. Wonca, as an international body of family medicine, was regarded as particularly suited to pursue these conference recommendations: 1. Research achievements in family medicine should be displayed to policy makers, health (insurance) authorities, and academic leaders in a systematic way. 2. In all countries, sentinel practice systems should be developed to provide surveillance reports on illness and diseases that have the greatest impact on the population's health and wellness in the community. 3. A clearinghouse should be organized to provide a central repository of knowledge about family medicine research expertise, training, and mentoring.4. National research institutes and university departments of family medicine with a research mission should be developed. 5. Practice-based research networks should be developed around the world.6. Family medicine research journals, conferences, and Web sites should be strengthened to disseminate research findings internationally, and their use coordinated. Improved representation of family medicine research journals in databases, such as Index Medicus, should be pursued.7. Funding of international collaborative research in family medicine should be facilitated.8. International ethical guidelines, with an international ethical review process, should be developed in particular for participatory (action) research, where researchers work in partnership with communities. 9. When implementing these recommendations, the specific needs and implications for developing countries should be addressed.The Wonca executive committee has reviewed these recommendations and the supporting rationale for each. They plan to follow the recommendations, but to do so will require the support and cooperation of many individuals, organizations, and national governments around the world.

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