What a week! After a few travel difficulties thanks to the “Beast from the East”, our wonderful delegation of 10 enthusiastic Students for Global Health-ers from across the network got to Egypt to represent the UK within the International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (IFMSA) at the 67th General Assembly (GA).

Let’s pause for a second. What do all these acronyms actually mean?

  • IFMSA: This is the largest student organisation in the world made up of different “National Member Organizations” (NMO) from different countries. SfGH represents the UK within it as the UK National Member Organization. Find out more here: https://ifmsa.org/
  • GA: Each year, IFMSA holds two General Assembly – the March Meeting (MM) and August Meeting (AM). These are like SfGH General Assemblies but on the international level – students gather from across the world to attend workshops and training and vote on policies, bylaws and candidatures for leadership positions within IFMSA.

Why did we go?

We attended the GA to represent SfGH’s views on the international level. In practice, this means we were present in different sessions on public health, sexual and reproductive health, medical education, human rights and peace and the clinical/research program that we run. We were there to vote on behalf of SfGH on policies, bylaws and candidatures – and we took forward some of our own SfGH policies to the international level too!

What did we get up to?

We were all present in different sessions – as Director of International Affairs, I attended the President’s sessions. Whilst some of the other sessions are more content-based, the President’s sessions are more technical and involve discussion on different issues within IFMSA, discussion around the things to be voted on, and sharing of experiences with other NMOs. I loved getting to speak to others from countries all across the world about how their NMO works and we’ve come away with new friends to collaborate with on different topics including policy and ethical placements abroad. It’s really fun getting to put global health into action and learning from others all across the globe!

What happened at the meeting?

This is just a quick summary of some of the key outcomes, but please drop me an email (international@studentsforglobalhealth.org) if you would like the full official report of everything that happened.

  • Our policies on Neglected Tropical Diseases and on Ethical Medical Placements abroad were adopted! This means they now form IFMSA’s official stance on the topics, and will be used by IFMSA for external representation and hopefully by NMOs for internal work too.
  • Unfortunately, our bylaw change proposal on making IFMSA more multidisciplinary, and our policy proposal on Drug Reform, were deemed “invalid” for technical reasons and so weren’t voted on. However, we’ll be working on them again to take forward to IFMSA August Meeting!
  • Slovenia was voted in as the host for next year’s March Meeting
  • A new IFMSA Executive Board (international equivalent of SfGH National Committee) was voted in
  • Other policies were adopted on Antimicrobial Resistance, Gender Equity, Noncommunicable Diseases, Social Accountability in Medical Schools, Universal Health Coverage and Global Health Workforce

How can you get involved?

There are so many incredible opportunities to get involved with IFMSA. You don’t need to be a seasoned SfGH-er – just enthusiastic! Why not think about applying to come on the delegation to the August Meeting 2018 in Canada? Check out the event Facebook page, and keep an eye on SfGH’s Facebook page for the application form over the next couple of months: https://www.facebook.com/am2018montreal/

And with our very own SfGH Spring General Assembly coming up – why not think about applying to National Committee, submitting a bylaw change or a policy proposal? Or perhaps your branch could be the next host of one of our national conferences. Check out the information on our website: https://studentsforglobalhealth.org/sga18/

Get in touch with me at international@studentsforglobalhealth.org for more information on our international work and how you can get stuck in – I’d love to hear from you.

Look out for more blogs coming soon from the rest of the delegation to hear what they got up to in their different sessions!

Lucy is the 2017/18 Director of International Affairs and UK IFMSA NMO President – She is chiefly responsible for the representation of UK medical, and healthcare, students to the IFMSA

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