School of Medicine - AUD GP Ireland Conference
Muiris Rowsome, Jagtaj Matharoo, Joel Abraham, Jean-Michel Leclere, Jerrid Archutick, Elena Koskinas, Kimberly Davy, Eleanor Costelloe, Sara Pickering, Jessica Moloney, Sunanda Karri, Eve Gaffney, and Molly Dinneen.
Thursday, 14 March 2024

The School of Medicine at University of Limerick recently hosted the 10th joint Annual Scientific Meeting of the Association of University Departments of General Practice in Ireland in collaboration with the Mid-West GP Training Scheme and the Irish College of General Practitioners. This meeting brought together clinicians, researchers, postgraduate trainees, and students to showcase general practice and primary care clinical and medical education research and innovation in the largest meeting of its kind on the Island of Ireland.

The two-day meeting explored different but complementary aspects of the theme “Connecting with Communities at the Edge”: social exclusion for some population groups due to socio-economic disadvantage and stigma and the risks for all because of the impacts of the climate crisis on planetary health.

There was great interest in this event, with a record total of 154 submissions and over 200 participants registered for the conference. The event programme included plenaries from international and national speakers focusing on addressing health inequalities, promoting social inclusion in primary care, and planetary health. There were multiple workshops to explore pressing clinical and educational issues as well as cutting-edge topics such as regenerative AI.

“We believe passionately that by people coming together, working together, and sharing ideas, we can help improve the health of all communities who are ‘living at the edge’, noted Professor Anne MacFarlane, professor of primary healthcare research and co-chair of the conference organising committee.

In one way, all communities are living at the edge, as access to treatment, cost of treatment, and healthcare staff recruitment and retention continue to be barriers to optimal healthcare for our communities nationally and internationally.

“Some communities are at the geographical edge, others at the financial edge, more are at the edge because of stigma and social exclusion, and all of us are at the edge of sustainability, where we are now questioning our relationship with the planet and the natural world,” added Professor Liam Glynn, professor of general practice and co-chair of the conference organising committee.

The relationship between social exclusion and poor health outcomes was explored by internationally renowned GP researcher Professor Maria van den Muijsenbergh from the Netherlands and by compelling psychologist Dr Sharon Lambert from UCC. Award-winning naturalist and wildlife documentary presenter Eoin Warner expanded on this theme around our ecological responsibilities and how this is linked to our health and wellbeing. In an outstanding keynote, he examined the deterioration of our relationship with the natural world, both emotionally and physically, and how this is affecting our health and the health of the planet.

“We were delighted to see the really significant involvement of undergraduate and postgraduate students, not just in the organisation and running of the conference, but with nearly 30 separate presentations from University of Limerick students at the conference, it is obvious that general practice and primary care research are in a very healthy state at the School of Medicine,” reflected Professor Patrick O’Donnell, chair of the student committee for the conference.