World Medical Association launches new Programme to equip Physicians for Leadership on Health Care Reform

The World Medical Association today announced the launch of an annual WMA Physicians Leadership Course, a global programme to enhance physician leadership skills in advocating for health care reform and achieving improved patient care.

Nominated through their national medical associations, top physician leaders will be selected by the WMA each year to participate in the high level training conducted by INSEAD, one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools. The six-day intensive curriculum will focus on proficiency in decision-making, participation in public debate and preparation to serve as spokespersons on key health care policy issues.

Dr. Edward Hill, Chair of the WMA, said: ‘Around the world, health care systems are being driven by bureaucratic and financial restrictions that impede doctors’ ability to make the best decisions for their patients. Today’s caring physician has to move beyond the clinical setting and into the public arena to help heal the system. The WMA Physicians Leadership Course will equip future medical leaders with the skills to drive policy to keep the physician-patient relationship at the centre of the debate.’

The course, the result of collaboration with Pfizer, is part of the WMA’s Caring Physicians of the World Initiative which seeks to unite national medical associations around the world, implementing a multipart programme to address the identified global concerns of physicians.

Dr. Yank Coble, former President of the WMA, who launched the Caring Physicians of the World Initiative (CPW) three years ago, said: ‘Through this course we want to address this need for the development of physicians’ advocacy and leadership skills.’

A pilot course was held in December last year at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, when 33 physicians from 22 countries participated. As a result of the success of this pilot, the first of the annual courses is being held at INSEAD in Fontainebleau next month (December 1-6). INSEAD, Singapore is under consideration as the site for the course in 2009.

Dr. Coble said: ‘The WMA is proud of the growth and achievements of the CPW Initiative. However much remains to be accomplished in, by and for the medical profession. Global threats of communicable and non-communicable disease persist, despite unparalleled progress in biomedical science, public health and medical care. Barriers to care flourish, created by ineffective, inefficient, and sometimes even corrupt governments.

‘The public is confused by terms such as providers instead of professionals, customers instead of patients, health care instead of medical care, and the pollution of scientific information by the media, and distortion by legal and regulatory systems. They are understandably distrustful. However there is good reason to be optimistic, because of the justifiable enthusiasm physicians have for the value and values of their profession, and the ability to be useful.’

Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai, former President of the Canadian Medical Association, and a participant in the pilot program, said: ‘The lessons learned from the course will aid the participants in dealing with dysfunctional health care systems and crises in the most constructive – and collaborative – manner possible. It is this skill set which is new to many of the participants that I believe is so essential in moving forward on some of the health challenges currently facing them in their countries.’