It’s Day 1 of the IFMSA March Meeting in Egypt and it’s already been a whirlwind of a day. After an early morning dip in the Red Sea, I attended the Standing Committee on Medical Education (SCOME) sessions. It was interesting to see how different the medical education systems across countries are and how their culture, society and infrastructure affect the medical students’ attitudes towards their learning or how they choose their placements.
It shocked me when delegates in India shared that they refuse to train in rural areas because the doctors are blamed, threatened and even sometimes killed when there are still-births creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment or when Tunisia’s delegates mentioned that the Universities do not cap the number of applicants into their medical school as that’s how they earn money, leading to a workforce that does not reflect the need of their country. On the other hand, it impressed me how Philippine’s medical schools change their curriculum to 50% community health as they were lacking community physicians and how medical schools in Sudan created an integrated curriculum to become more socially accountable.
One of the highlights of my day was helping to facilitate the global health education session. As expected, there is a lack of global health education within the medical curriculum across the board. If global health education was within the curriculum, the main focus was on epidemiology and infectious diseases. The delegates recognized the need for global health education as our world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and are willing to push for change despite knowing that there will be high resistance in medical schools.
I went to MM18 with a strong focus on global health education, but realizing that some medical schools aren’t even accredited or have a problem in getting basic life support into the curriculum makes me question whether I was in the right place to push for such a topic. That being said, the delegates were very keen to learn more, especially just to gain some basic knowledge of “what is global health?”.
Another major challenge that I noticed was the lack of a set core curriculum for global health education within the literature. This potentially could be an area for Students for Global Health to collaborate with other national member organizations to work on and develop.
All in all, the IFMSA is a great way to meet people and open your eyes to different cultures and points of views. It will make you realize that what we sometimes perceive is a big problem in the UK is so miniscule compared to what some other faced.