IFMSA March Meeting 2021 | 70th General Assembly

Τhe 70th General Assembly of IFMSA – International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations took place online from 26th of February to 14th of March. In this General Assembly, 20 medical students, active members of HelMSIC, participated as representatives of Greece’s Medical students

IFMSA is the largest international organization, representing Medical students worldwide. Its main goal is to bring together Medical students from all over the world regardless of economical, socio-political, racial factors and beliefs. IFMSA is active in six fields of action: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights including HIV/AIDS, Public Health, Human Rights & Peace, Medical Education, Professional Exchanges and Research Exchanges.

Every year, IFMSA holds 2 General Assemblies, one in March and one in August. More specifically, these international meetings consist of individual parts such as plenaries, educational sessions, theme events and an interactive presentation where innovative programs organized by Medical students’ organizations on an international level, are presented.

To begin with, plenaries take place in order for representatives to discuss important topics and vote on administrative issues of the organisation. During these plenaries, discussions on issues such as health policies and external collaborations take place and members of IFMSA’s next international team are elected.

Moreover, one of the most educational and interactive parts of the General Assembly are the Standing Committee sessions. Participants from all different parts of the world are given the chance to decide on issues regarding their Standing Committees, educate themselves and interact on a multicultural level. This year, some of the main topics discussed were the influence of the pandemic in medical education & human rights, vaccines and immunization, the necessity of research in the field of Medicine, gender equality and Global Health.

Medical Education:  Main topics were COVID – 19 and medical education, advantages and disadvantages of distance learning  and access of health professionals to rural areas                                                                                             

Public Health: Ways that vaccines can influence immunization were mentioned, with emphasis on COVID-19, and how Climate Change & COVID-19 affect Global Health                             

Research Exchange: The contribution of research to the understanding of medical issues was discussed, biosafety in research protocols and advocacy on open access to research data                                   

Professional Exchanges: Delegates examined how the academic quality of professional exchanges can be improved and how global health goals can be incorporated and achieved                                                                       

Human Rights & Peace: The discussion revolved around COVID – 19 & Human Rights, how different cultural backgrounds affect human rights & prisoners’ rights

Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights including HIV & AIDs: Participants discussed about the necessity of Sex Education, Gender Equality & Sex – selective abortion

Another main part of  General Assemblies is the Theme Event that includes motivational speeches and open discussions on current issues. In this year’s March Meeting, the area of interest was Digital Health and members of HelMSIC’s delegation had the chance not only to observe speeches on the role of medical students on digital health & digital health literacy, but also to attend live presentations of innovative ideas on how to bridge the gap between digital health and medical education, presented by groups of delegates.

Lastly, in every General Assembly an interactive presentation of innovative programs organized by Medical Students’ Associations takes place, called Activities Fair, where students are inspired about future activities that could be organised in their countries. This year, 30 programs were presented among which was HelMSIC’s Cure Stigma, an awareness campaign on HIV & AIDs. Additional programs that stood out were: “International Day of Peace 2020” from Indonesia about Bioethics & Human Rights in Medicine, ”Flex-Joint” from Kazakhstan on Health Systems & “LAMHA: Lockdown Affecting Mental Health of Homemakers Adversely” from India, that raised awareness on mental health during COVID-19. At the same time, the Scientific Poster Fair took place, where Medical Students’ Organisations could present their Research Projects.

Although IFMSA’s 70th General Assembly was held online, participants had the chance to interact with medical students from all different parts of the world, share their views and cultivate a more holistic approach on current global health & medical education issues. IFMSA’s meetings, whether held online or in person, are a unique experience that encourage collaboration, teamwork & mutual respect among medical students.

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