The Structure, Aims and Agenda of the UEMO

The European Union of General Practitioners (UEMO) is an organisation of the most representative national, nongovernmental, independent organisations representing general practitioners in the countries of Europe. Founded in 1967 by the national organisations in Belgium, France, Germany, Holland and Italy, the Union quickly grew to encompass organisations from all the current Member States of the European Union as well as from the countries of the European Free Trade Association and other European countries

The principal objectives of UEMO are:

• to study and promote the highest standard of training, practice and patient care within the field of general practice throughout Europe;

• to defend the role of general practitioners in the healthcare systems;

• to promote the ethical, scientific, professional, social and economic interests of European general practitioners, and to secure their freedom of practice in the interest of their patients;

• to determine the united views of the members and to represent them through the appropriate channels to the relevant European authorities and international organisations;

• to work with other European medical groupings, such as the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME), to strengthen the position and unanimity of the medical profession in Europe in order to maintain the highest possible standards of education, ethics and patient care. Among the organisations with which UEMO co-operates are the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS), the Permanent Working Group of European junior Doctors (PWG), the European Society of General Practice/Family Medicine, and the World Health Organization (WHO). Since 1992, UEMO has official, non-governmental, consultative status with the Council of Europe.

Presidency and Secretariat
The Presidency and Secretariat function of the UEMO rotates from member organisation to member organisation on a four-yearly basis. Starting in Belgium, the host organisation for UEMO moved to The Netherlands, France, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Sweden. On 1 January 2002 the Swedish delegation assumed the Presidency and Secretariat function for the period 2002-2006.The Presidency of UEMO consists of the President, the Secretary-General and the Treasurer from the host country. In addition, four Vice-Presidents are attached to the Presidency.The order of rotation of the Presidency and Secretariat is decided by the General Assembly. The four Vice-Presidents are also elected for a four-year term of office and are not re-eligible.

The President, Secretary-General and Treasurer are responsible for implementing the decisions of the UEMO General Assembly, preparing meetings of the General Assembly, conducting the daily work of UEMO, and maintaining contacts between UEMO and the relevant European authorities, the Standing Committee of European Doctors and other international organisations. The Vice-Presidents are responsible for advising and assisting the Presidency in planning and analysing UEMO work and policy and, at the request of the President, representing UEMO at international meetings and on other occasions.Except by special dispensation, all political officers of UEMO must be general practitioners active in medical practice.

UEMO normally meets in
General Assembly twice a year, in spring and autumn. The General Assembly is presided over by the President and organised by the UEMO Secretariat. An extraordinary General Assembly must be called if requested by three delegations. The General Assembly consists of up to six delegates and alternate delegates from each of the member organisations, under the leadership of a head of delegation. Each member organisation has one vote in the Plenum and the President is not entitled to vote. The General Assembly is empowered to make all relevant political and organisational decisions concerning UEMO.In addition, meetings of UEMO working groups are held in connection with the General Assembly meetings and, in between meetings of the General Assembly, non-statutory meetings of UEMO Presidency are scheduled to consider matters of current interest in UEMO and to prepare for the meeting of the General Assembly. UEMO policy is preperd by the Working Groups of the organisation.

UEMO policy
In 1990 and 1991, UEMO adopted an official Policy Statement. This includes: a definition of general practice; policy on the content of vocational training; the implementation of vocational training; continuing education in general practice; quality assessment; practice organisation; remuneration of services provided by general practitioners; structures of general medical care; the patient-doctor relationship; and professional responsibility. The policy framework put forward in this document functions as a working guideline for the ongoing activities of UEMO in each of the fields covered. The policy document continues to expand to keep pace with new developments.

Other UEMO activities
UEMO has been active in a number of areas, most specifically in the area of specific training for general practitioners, as well  as cancer training in CME, quality assurance, and computers in general practice. Currently it is at work on another major project to investigate the status of women in the field of general practice. In 1997, UEMO celebrated its 30th anniversary at meetings in Killarney and Limerick, Ireland, where consideration was given to the tasks facing general practice in the future. 

In addition to the UEMO Handbook and UEMO Reference Books, the following publications are currently available from UEMO:The future of general practice in Europe Copenhagen 1992, 73pp Policy statement of the UEMO Copenhagen 1992, 10pp Criteria for general practitioners trainers Copenhagen 1993, 7pp Proceedings: consensus conference on cancer training for general practitioners Copenhagen 1991,74pp Consensus document on cancer training for general practitioners with introduction by the UEMO President and Vasso Papandreo, Member of the EC Commission. Published by the EC Commission and distributed by UEMO, 1992, 26pp Statutes of the UEMO Copenhagen 1992, 17pp Proceedings of the UEMO consensus conference on specific training and cancer training for general practitioners 1994 Proceedings of the Conference of Women in General Practice, 1997.

On the UEMO agenda...

Equal Opportunities
The important work with Equal Opportunities concerns discrimination on basis of gender, race, religion and handicap. The working group was formed in 1997 and is now a standing committee.

Deprived Areas
A clear distinction between Public Health and GP-tasks in deprived areas can help diminish the workload of the GP. As for preventive and educational measures effective cooperation between the two is necessary in all significant areas. Extra funding is also necessary to facilitate the working conditions of GP's working in deprived areas. For more information: UEMO 2001/056.

Preventive Activities
Healthy living includes good nutrition, a tobacco-free lifestyle, regular physical exercise and a supportive environment. The UEMO has an important role in advocating policies that could lead to better health status of the population. The UEMO Consensus Document UEMO 2002/103 is a call for further action in Prevention and Health Promotion.

Tobacco Control
Each year, tobacco causes some 4 million premature deaths, with 1 million of these occurring in countries that can least afford the health care burden. By the year 2030, tobacco is likely to be the world's leading cause of death and disability, killing more than 10 million people annually.
Effective tobacco control requires a diverse array of strategies including research, policy and programmatic components. Strategies must be comprehensive, developed and coordinated to work together and compliment those implemented at the local, national and international levels. For more information about The UEMO Policy Statement on Tobacco Control: UEMO 2003/059. For more information about the Role of General Practitioners in Tobacco Prevention: UEMO 2003/060.
Preventive Activities focusing on children and youth
The years of adolescence are often thought of as the years of life with the best mental and physical health and the lowest need for health services. Although this is true for the largest part of the teenager generation, it is well documented that a substantial part of them also suffer from different health problems and worries.
Loneliness, depression, suicidal- or self-harming behaviour, eating disorders, victims of violence or accidents, eating disorders, sexually related diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and alcohol- and drug abuse are examples of health-problems which are prevalent in the adolescent period of life.

A specialty equal to other specialties
One of the most important tasks for the UEMO is to guarantee good health care together with the other specialties. To meet the demands of the future there is a need for high competence in General practice/Family medicine. The UEMO therefore works for General practice/Family medicine to be recognized as a specialty equal to other specialties. (UEMO 2002/160).

Working Groups