Posted by Matthew Tuck
Hi everyone. In the relative tranquillity of the delegation HQ (i.e. one very cluttered hotel room) I thought I would let you all know a bit about the first day of the IFMSA March Meeting from my perspective.
I’m Vice-coordinator for Sexpression:UK so my standing committee at the IFMSA is the Standing Committee on Reproductive Health including HIV/AIDS or SCORA for short.
Besides a brief introduction to the group last night this was the first time I had met this room of people who were all SCORA representatives for their individual countries, and it was amazing to see the scale of the representation we had achieved with around 50 delegates.
We were re-familiarised with the SCORA director Josko, and his supporting committee and then we were straight into the first of many energisers: a dancercise style performance of “I’m sexy and I know it” that those who had attended the Pre-GA events had practiced especially for us. With the cobwebs shaken off Joska gave us the most recent facts from the latest UNAIDS report on the HIV epidemic and then opened up the floor to discussion about what might hamper the further reduction of new cases of HIV infection.
Fadi from Lebanon then led a session following on from Joska about the attitudes towards HIV positive patients within different health care systems, all made more interactive by some role-play. It was shocking to find out that in one European country HIV medication is only given free at the point of care to patients who have their names put on a publicly accessible “HIV positive register”. There were also stories from students of doctors refusing to treat HIV positive patients.
After a short break to stretch our legs we were re-energised with “this is how we ride the pony”, a game that quite literally gets people galloping round the room after each other. Yoka from Germany then lead a talk on Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI). She facilitated the discussion on the common prejudices against each group and how they may impact on an individual’s health as well as dispelling a few myths surrounding LGBTQI stereotypes.
The first SCORA meeting of the GA ended with a presentation from our very own Mike Kalmus-Elias and Jonny Meldrum on sustainable development and how that overlapped with our discussions and focus in SCORA.
It was a great to see the diverse range of ideas and attitudes even amongst a very like-minded group of individuals. As a recent reader of Tracy Kidder’s biography of Paul Farmer: Mountains beyond mountains I keep thinking of a quote that was printed at the start of a chapter. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has” Margaret Mead.
If all of the 4 SCORA sessions operate in the same manner then this week will be a thought provoking experience in field of public health very close to my heart.
If you want to hear more about Sexpression:UK’s involvement in the GA or want to contact us then visit our facebook page or follow us @sexpressionuk.
Matt is the current Vice-Coordinator for Branches on the Sexpression:UK National committee and is also currently a 4th year medical student at Newcastle University.