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Spanish physician named best family doctor in the world

Verónica Casado was awarded the prize by the World Organization of Family Doctors for her excellence in communication, patient care and leadership

Family doctor Verónica Casado.
Family doctor Verónica Casado.

Spanish doctor Verónica Casado has been named the best family doctor in the world by the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA). The organization awarded her the WONCA Five Stars prize after agreeing she was the top candidate in five categories. According to the Spanish Society of Family Medicine (Semfyc), these are communication, personalized patient care, community leadership, ethical decision-making and ability for team work.

I have achieved all my accomplishments thanks to by colleagues

Dr Verónica Casado

The award, announced on Monday at the global WONCA summit in Seoul, recognizes doctors who provide outstanding care as well as the primary healthcare system of the doctor’s home country. “This is a recognition of all Spanish family doctors,” Casado said by telephone, adding that the organization had valued her research on how to improve primary healthcare.

This is the first time the award has gone to a Spanish doctor. Casado warns that “since the crisis hit, primary care has been the most undermined [segment of healthcare].” She hopes the recognition will help increase funding in the health sector and strengthen primary care services.

Casado is the author of more than 30 books on primary healthcare. She moved to Valladolid from Reims in France when she was nine and now works at the city’s Parquesol health center. On April 4, 2017, she received the award of the best family doctor in Europe after her resumé was presented by the National Commission of Family and Community Medicine. “The president [of the commission] asked me for it and I didn’t know what it was for,” recalls Casado. Then, on March 19, Casado was named the best family doctor in Ibero-America. It is the first time a person has held the title in both continents at the same time.

While it is in individual prize, Casado says she believes it is a recognition of her entire team. “I have achieved all my accomplishments thanks to my colleagues,” she says.

The WONCA Five Stars award is handed out every two years to a family doctor for their integral work as a healthcare provider. “It is a qualitative issue,” explains Casado. Previous award winners include Atai Omoruto from Uganda, Lucy Candib from the United States and the joint winners Tonia Roache from Trinidad and Tobago and Ruth Wilson from Canada.

What is a five star doctor?

The WONCA Five Stars recognize a healthcare provider who considers a patient as an integral part of a family and community and offers high-quality, preventive and personalized healthcare based on a relationship of doctor-patient trust.

The doctor must also be able make decisions using ethical and cost-effective technologies that improve the level of care and be a communicator who can empathetically promote healthy lifestyle choices.

A WONCA Five Stars doctor is someone who is a trusted leader of their community, and who is able to reconcile the demands of individual and community health. Lastly, the award winner must be able to work in a team with other doctors and organizations both in and outside the health system.

Casado has experience as a teacher and in international cooperation. She holds a PhD in Medicine and Surgery, and between 1990 and 1997, she was a medical director, primary care manager and deputy director of health planning at the Spanish Health Ministry.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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