1st International Conference of Primary Care & Public Health Report

The 1st International Conference of Primary Care and Public Health, 3rd International Congress of Person Centred Medicine,  was held at Imperial College London, United Kingdom, from the 29th to 31st of October 2015. 


The conference covered five central themes: Primary Care in the 21st Century, Ageing and Ageism, Children and Adolescences, Integrated Care, and Public Health in Primary Care. The programme comprised of keynote lectures, brief oral presentations and posters, featuring prominent figures as well as members of local communities from numerous global settings, including the UK, US, Middle East and Mauritius. Over 250 individuals attended from countries all over the world.

The importance of this conference was laid out in the opening remarks from Imperial College President Alice Gast together with Professor James Appleyard, President of the International College of Person Centred Medicine, Dr Derek Bell of NIHR CLAHRC NWL and His excellency Professor Ala Alwan Eastern Mediterranean Regional office for the WHO. The trans-boundary issues which threaten health warrant an international response, and events such as this conference are crucial for knowledge exchange and the planning of action.

A summary of the calls to action from the conference below and more information from each speaker can be found on the conference website www.icpcmlondon2015.org

i.Establish a shared goal of improvement in the health of the population through person and people centered care, taking into account biomedical, socio-cultural, psychological and spiritual elements that form part of the whole person and the demography of diverse populations.

ii.Primary care and Public health professionals shouldcreate and enhance local links and build relationships with each other and local stakeholders.

iii.Prevention programmes at all levels should be fully integrated within primary care.

iv.Create health care databases and identify new data sets, creating from these a consolidated information system a platform for sharing and displaying local population health data that could be used by communities.

v.To create common research networks to foster and support the integration of primary care and public health to improve population health.

vi.To develop multidisciplinary educational programs developing the curriculum and clinical experience that ensures the integration of primary care and public health.

vii.That primary care should be delivered within the social and occupational network of each person, alongside the provision Social Care and recognized as being part of a complex adaptive system withmany components that reciprocally influence one another. 

Primary Care in the 21st Century

This theme was explored throughout the conference both in addressing the complexity of a world in which displaced people’s health needs require action and in widening our understanding of what it means to be healthy. From Professor Ted Epperly’s insight to the American Health model and how our spending on medical services is not in line with what maintains health, through to Professor Marisa Papaluca’s clear explanation of how Regulators are driving innovation in providing personalised medicines. The challenges and opportunities for primary care and achieving universal health coverage in the Gulf Cooperation Countries were succinctly described by Professor Tawfik Khoja and His Excellency Anil Gayan for the setting of Mauritius.

Ageing and Ageism

The fact that the world’s population is ageing and the need to account for increasing longevity is widely acknowledged, exploring attitudes to ‘casual ageism’ both in the elderly and the often overlooked adolescent group was integral to Professor Jon Snaedal’s talk. Professor the Baroness Ilora Finlay brilliantly summarised the importance of palliative care and highlighted the lack of focus and expertise which health systems provide for end of life care. The one time all people will require healthcare is at the time of death so it is important to focus on the end as well as the beginning.

Childhood and Adolescence

Sir Al Aynsley-Green delivered a powerful talk on the most significant and influential period of an individual’s life: childhood. With changing population demographics it is more important than ever to invest in and nurture children. The importance of person centred medicine was emphasised by Professor John Cox with particular regards to perinatal depression, an issue which can have enduring effects on families involved. Professor Mitch Blair, in his inspirational talk, stressed the need for doctors to pay attention to the crucial first years of life and seeing the patient in the wider context of family, school, and immediate community circumstances.

Integrated Care

Professor Azeem Majeed raised important points about the need for research and innovation in primary care, and explained the proposals for family practitioner led and hospital led integration. Professor the Baroness Sheila Hollins spoke compassionately about the need for person centred medicine and the imperative for care givers to work with the patient and their family and loved ones, to see the person behind the disability. Using integrated care for the treatment of atrial fibrillation was informatively described by Dr Abdul-Majeed Salmasi.

Public Health in Primary Care

Building health systems on a foundation of primary care and public health is vital for universal health coverage and improved population health. Professor Salman Rawaf spoke passionately about how crucial primary care is in order to tackle the growing prevalence of non-communicable disease and for ensuring healthcare is family and person orientated. The importance of primary care in public health was stressed in a video message from Professor Ala Alwan, director of EMRO, who highlighted that primary care is at the core of the region wide priorities for EMRO, including health system strengthening, addressing non-communicable disease, promoting health security and building capacity.