Caring Physicians of the World Initiative

Leadership: The Caring Physicians of the World Initiative

Caring, ethics and science are the three fundamental and enduring traditions which unite medical professionals around the world.  Despite the enormously disparate environments and circumstances in which physicians care for patients, through these universal traditions, we find global similarity in physicians’ desires and concerns.  The Caring Physicians of the World Initiative (CPW) was designed to restore enthusiasm and optimism in the field of medicine, through medical and social leadership based on the enduring traditions of the medical profession:  Caring, Ethics and Science.   The initiative was conceived in Helsinki, Finland at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the World Medical Association (WMA) and is continuing.

“The most important thing is caring, so do it first, for the caring Physician best inspires hope and trust.”

Sir William Osler

Since 2007, the WMA has organized a Leadership Course, which from 2007 to 2015 has been held by the International Business School INSEAD. First on the Campus in Fontainebleau, south of Paris, later at its Campus in Singapore, the course has offered a range of leadership skills to individuals nominated by their medical associations. Leadership with and without authority, negotiation, lobbying, press relations and international cooperation are core parts of the curriculum for the one week course. Since 2016, the WMA runs the course autonomously with support of an external faculty and the Mayo Clinic, which also hosted the course at its campus in Jacksonville Florida.

A total of 222 participants from 48 different countries and all continents have participated in the 7 courses run until 2016. Many of these were new leaders in their organisations and attended as already elected presidents or Secretary Generals. Many other participants were elected into offices thereafter. Some of the participants were kind enough to give us some video statements emphasizing the usefulness of the Leadership Course. Please click on the link provided in the resource section.

The Caring Physicians of the World Initiative has been made possible through the sponsorship of the Pfizer Humanities Initiative, Pfizer Inc. and the Bayer AG.

National Medical Associations (NMAs) also completed a questionnaire. There were also consultations with NMAs outside the African continent such as the USA, UK, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

African NMAs were found in general to lack the capacity to play their leadership roles to influence their national health systems.

The 9 specific areas identified for capacity building for African NMAs were as follows:

  1. Organisational Strengthening
  2. Areas for advocacy in Medical Education
  3. Improving access to Continuing Professional Development
  4. Universal Health Coverage
  5. Promoting Social Determinants of Health
  6. The One Health approach
  7. Brain Drain
  8. Research and publication
  9. E-Health

The WMA will embark on capacity building of NMAs in the specific focus areas mentioned above.

Recently, a team of Uganda Medical Association medical specialists based in Kampala and World Medical Association executive members has been formed. This team will provide the project with technical support. An administrative secretariat has been established to support the project activities.

Duration of project

5 years (2015-2020)

Project Goal

To strengthen the capacity of African NMAs to fulfil their professional leadership role and improve the health systems of their countries.

Anticipated Outcome

African NMAs effectively influence the health systems of their countries

Specific Objective

To develop the capacity of African NMAs in specific identified areas of focus.


Online Discussions

Resource persons with expertise in the identified areas of focus for capacity building will be invited to moderate focused online discussions related to the identified areas for capacity building.

Regional meetings and pan African conferences and workshops

These events will aim to provide leaders from African NMAs an opportunity to share challenges and innovations they have used to influence their health systems. NMAs from outside the African continent will also be invited to participate and share their experiences.


NMAs outside the African continent will be invited to twin and collaborate with African NMAs under the specific areas of focus.

Collaborative Partnerships

Government and private sector organisations will be invited to support the NMAs.

Project Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning

Benchmarks and impact assessment indicators have been identified to enable monitoring and evaluation of the success of the project and learning for future use. There will be a mid-term review after the end of year three to evaluate and learn from the project’s findings.