Inform the Public about Health | The role of Medical Students in informing the Public about Public Health

It is a fact that the contemporary socioeconomic, environmental and behavioural factors raise the spread of infectious diseases that usually threaten our health safety, even on an international level. The Antimicrobial Resistance constitutes the biggest threat of today’s antimicrobial treatment and one of the biggest and most dangerous problems of Public Health. Being part of the problem, Greece is one of the countries with the greatest consumption of antibiotics in Europe and comes first in the number of hospital acquired infections. Simultaneously, despite their proven effectiveness, vaccines have been questioned in recent years, which has triggered the reappearance of past diseases, the provocation of epidemics and the rise of deaths caused by diseases that could have been prevented. As a result, and because of the lack of information, there is intense controversy, that indicates the need for communication and raising awareness. Furthermore, the current events, the Covid-19 pandemic and the provoked disagreements and hesitations, bring us closer than ever to these major Public Health threats.

HelMSIC – Hellenic Medical Students International Committee, recognising the problems mentioned above and trying to contribute to their mitigation, organised the campaign “Inform the PUBLIC about HEALTH” as a follow up of the 2nd Panhellenic Congress of Medical Students on Public Health – Health Festival, in order to highlight the power and the impact that we can have in our society, as medical students.

The campaign focused on the role that medical students have in informing the public about Public Health issues and more specifically about Infectious Diseases, Vaccines and the Antimicrobial Resistance. The target was to highlight the power that medical students have in contributing to informing the public and in inhibiting the spread of incomplete and false myths around these matters. Moreover, besides the realisation of their role in the chain of information, the campaign intended to provide medical students with important information and techniques for the accomplishment of this goal.

The campaign analysed different topics relevant to the Infectious Diseases. These topics include sources of valid information, preventative medicine, health literacy, communication skills, correct prescription of antibiotics and ways of approaching the members of the anti-vaccine movement.

Lastly, alongside the campaign, a questionnaire was promoted in HelMSIC’s, and other organisations’ social media, in order to collect data on people’s knowledge and opinions in topics related to Communicable Diseases. The questionnaire targeted the general public, excluding healthcare professionals and medical students. During the last day of the campaign the results were published and analysed.