On Wednesday, a delegation of 5 medsinners travelled to Prague to represent the UK at the European Regional Meeting (EuRegMe) of the International Federation of Medical Student Associations (IFMSA). EuRegMe is a 3 day conference, where medical students associations from more than 30 different European countries come together to share ideas and for training. Our delegation includes Felicity Jones (Medsin-UK Joint National-Coordinator), Hollie Kluczewski (Sexpression National Coordinator), Mike Kalmus-Eliasz (Medsin-UK Global Health Education Director), Vita Sinclair (Medsin-UK Southeast Regional Events Coordinator) and myself.
This is the first IFMSA event I have been to, but I’ve already been struck by the infectious enthusiasm of my fellow delegates. Yesterday morning Vita and I attended a meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Health (SCOPH) where we watched presentations from a number of projects, ranging from First Aid awareness outreach in Greece, to “Break the Silence”, a transnational project which teaches people about sign language and the lives of the deaf and mute. Today’s SCOPH session discussed generic medicines, antibiotic resistance and the public health implications of alcohol. In each case, we were given an introduction to the topic before discussing our national policy on the issue, and debating the best way to advocate for positive change. The IFMSA also has standing committees on Medical Education (SCOME), Reproductive Health including AIDS (SCORA), Human Rights and Peace (SCORP), Professional Exchange (SCOPE) and Research Exchange (SCORE).
In addition, the IFMSA has small working groups (SWGs) on a variety of issues. After a series of concerning discussions with delegates from other countries about the effects of the economic crisis, cuts and privatisation on health systems, today Vita and I founded and facilitated a new SWG on European Healthcare in the Economic Crisis. Whilst we only had an hour and a half today to share stories and discuss how we can move to oppose the European trend of health cuts and privatisation, we have set the ball in motion for an ongoing campaign of solidarity. By bringing together so many groups of medical students we will have a louder voice on the international stage, whilst at the same time sharing Medsin’s strength in advocacy to help students fight against increasing health inequality in their own countries.
As well as learning about the work of other national member organisations (NMOs), EuRegMe is an opportunity to get training from world class student leaders on wide ranging topics, from leadership skill to finance and sustainability. There is also an extensive social programme, which is key to the IFMSA’s founding mission to improve cultural awareness and sensitivity in medical students. After an opening ceremony and dinner in the Great Hall of Charles University on Wednesday, we had a surprise boat trip down the Vltava river on Thursday, followed by a Czech night tonight, and a national food and drink party will close the festivities tomorrow.
The exhausted Medsin delegation is now over half way through EuRegMe, and we’ve made a lot of new friends and have strongly communicated Medsin’s core ideals of advocacy and equity. But EuRegMe is just part of a continuing process, as SWGs develop and standing committees write new policy statements to be voted on in Mumbai at the IFMSA General Assembley (GA) in August. Using these statements, the IFMSA can influence global policy through it’s delegations at events like the World Health Assembly, Rio+20 and COP18. By spreading Medsin’s ideals,and learning from and coordinating with our fellow NMOs we have real power to enact positive global change through the IFMSA.
I’m sure many more updates will be posted by my fellow medsinner delegates, but if you want to ask any questions about the conference, then tweet me at @Camsbridge.