Today was an interesting day on several levels. The Santiago Task Force and the Task Force on IFMSA Vision and Mission initiated today’s presidents’ session with their report presentations, which were clear, concise, and well appreciated by the various NMOs. Dr Margaret Mungherera, the current President of the World Medical Association, then gave a motivating talk on the relationship between National Member Organizations and their respective National Medical Associations, furthering the aim of ensuring mutual collaboration between medical students and physicians around the world. Whereas it is easy to imagine in what senses the NMO gains by collaborating with the NMA, she ensured that the NMA also had significant things to learn and profit from the youth group, particularly on how to effectively leverage social media. The Head of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students mentioned that it remained important for NMOs to issue statements in their own names alone sometimes, especially on matters of social justice and advocacy, considering the greater impact students may have as the voice of progress and change.
The presidents then proceeded to discuss the bylaw change and policy statement propositions. I was disappointed to witness how several presidents were unprepared for these discussions. For example, presidents often asked questions that could have been answered by diligent review of the literature provided before the GA. Moreover, they did not raise issues that I could easily see later causing much fuss during plenaries later, probably due to fear of group bias, especially for policy statements regarding access to safe abortion and the end of discrimination towards LGTBQ patients. I was happy to contribute to the Conscientious Objection and Access to Care policy statement by ensuring that the policy outlined the obligation of physicians that are (1) unwilling to provide a medical act or service due to their right to freedom of religion, conscious and thought, and (2) do not know any other physician that is willing to provide such an act or service, should take it upon themselves to find such a willing physician and provide their contact information to the patient.
For the afternoon Theme Event, I attended two presentations on Health Policy. The first talk was frankly disappointing. Thankfully, the second talk by Bryan Collinsworth of the Universities Allied for Essential Medicines was engaging and very pertinent for medical students that have little exposure to the theory behind health care policies in their medical education. We discussed topics as diverse as the general framework for success in policy effectiveness and outcome, equity assurance, health care administration systems, the challenges behind self-interest in politics, the difference between health outcome and health equity, and the role of youth for the future of health policy. Despite my background in management, I still found this session instructive; it was, however, especially motivating for aspiring future leaders in health care administration such as myself.
I end with a couple of comments regarding my first objective for this GA and strategic planning. I have so far had the opportunity to speak with Medsin UK and CFMS Canada on the matter, and have collected some good points from them. I am finding it particularly difficult to approach NMO presidents on the matter, considering that the opportune moment to discuss with them is during the one very short break we have during presidents’ sessions. However, I am confident that once I am introduced more NMO presidents, I will be able to engage in fruitful discussions with the latter despite the short time delays – I will be counting on Claudel’s help to grow my network. Finally, the IFMSA president’s presentation on the IFMSA Strategic Planning campaign was interesting as it differs greatly from the campaign I am expecting to lead.
Ta ta for now!