And It’s a Start: Greetings from IFMSA Team of Officials 2014/15

Get a quick overview of IFMSA here and read more about Team of Officials Meeting 1 here!

It has been more than two weeks now since we, the new IFMSA Team of Officials, have started our new term. We represent 25 countries, from the five different regions. Our strengths are complementary; our vision and objectives align; our passion and motivation are the same. We bring to the Federation a different set of skills and past experiences, which we believe are important assets for the next term. As the months pass, you will get to know us a little better.

A few days ago, we have met in Morocco for the Team of Officials Meeting 1 (TOM1). The TOM1 was held in the city of Kenitra, near Rabat, from October 1st-6th 2014. Those precious days together have allowed us to build a concrete Plan of Action for 2014/15, finding its roots in the Strategy 2014-2017 which was adopted at the August Meeting 2014 in Taiwan. This is the first time in recent IFMSA history that such a plan is build at the very beginning of the term, and we are very confident that this will allow the Team to work efficiently for the betterment of the Federation, while ensuring a smooth transition to the new leadership structure. We have also worked and discussed several other issues at the heart of IFMSA: you can read all about them in the Summary and Outcomes Report.

While building on what the Federation has successfully achieved in the past 62 years, we believe it is still possible to innovate, to increase even more our impact on the world, as we shape the sustainable and healthy future we want. IFMSA has this amazing capacity of bringing people together from all over the globe. We are committed to give the Federation the positive leadership it deserves and to focus on unity, as so to help create long and lasting friendships, international collaborative initiatives, open-minded and culturally sensitive future physicians.

So, here is to the greatest year of all. We are extremely excited to be your 2014-2015 representatives. We hope to connect with all of you and to live up to your expectations.

See you soon around the globe,

Your Team of Officials 2014/15


Team of Officials Meeting 1 | October 1s-6th 2014 | Morocco

Below, the speech read by Agostinho Sousa, IFMSA President 2014/15, during the TOM 1 Inauguration Ceremony

Dear Minister of High Education of the Kingdom of Morocco,
Dear State Ambassadors,
Dear WHO Representative in Morocco,
Dear Representatives of Intergovernmental Organizations,
Dear Mayor of the City of Kenitra,
Dear Official Representatives,
Dear Invited Guests,
Dear Representatives of IFMSA Morocco,
Dear Organizing Committee of the First Team of Officials Meeting for the term 2014/2015,
Dear IFMSA family,
Dear Team of Officials,

First of all, I would like to thank all of you for being present in this ceremony. Also my deepest thank you to the City of Kenitra for hosting us here today and IFMSA-Morocco for hosting our first Team of Officials Meeting of the term. This opening ceremony has a special meaning for all of us and for all the medical students worldwide.

The Federation, which has been established more than 60 years ago, will see one of the biggest changes in its strategic work and methods of the last 25 years. But before addressing the challenges ahead, I would like to give you a quick overview on the different areas of action of IFMSA.


I would like to mention the topics that will influence the life and work of this Team of Officials and the future of our federation: that is the implementation of the changes approved with global consensus, in our general Assembly August Meeting 2014 in Taipei, Taiwan.

This year, we will conduct a transition to a new leadership structure, a first concrete implementation of the 3-year based strategy of 2014-2017, a functional secretariat and a brilliant shift from Projects to the Programs system: those will be the exciting challenges that will mark our term and that hopefully will bring our Federation towards efficiency, while maximizing its capacity.

However, we cannot forget the global challenges that we are currently facing. We must ensure that our Federation continues to represent the views and priorities of medical students. We, as medical students, must take a more active stance on the problems that surround us all, not only at international level, but most importantly, on the local level. This is where we, the students, can have the biggest impact.

And taking this into consideration, we cannot forget to deal with the challenges and necessities of medical students. An uncertain future is around us: lack of employability; lack of financial resources to enter and continue medical studies; lack of postgraduate opportunities; burnout of students and healthcare professionals; lack of protection of students and doctors. Those problems are getting worse every year and it is fundamental for the Federation to have a closer approach to the interests and challenges of students and their future…since they will be one of the key stakeholders in the future of healthcare systems! Without motivated students, without motivated doctors, healthcare looses its efficacy and the ones that will face the biggest challenges are the patients, whom should be our main priority.

We also don’t forget important milestone at global level for this year: the implementation of the sustainable development goals in a post-2015 agenda. After years of consultations and discussions, the new development goals will hopefully be approved and be pushed forward by the international community. However, IFMSA believes in more concrete actions and will continue its work in the improvement of health worldwide. IFMSA hopes that any approved goal, will reflect a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity for all the humanity. We must understand that the successes are not measured by words, but by concrete and meaningful actions.

This is why we need not only the active cooperation from the Team of Officials, but also a meaningful participation from empowered and committed National Member Organizations. We know that in order to achieve that level of collaboration, we need to continue to nourish the trust between us and our members and I’m sure that this team will do all efforts to earn that trust.

Without further due, I would like to call the IFMSA Team of Officials for the term of 2014/2015, to take the oath and sign the minutes of the inauguration of this term.

Finally, I want to address our future Team of Officials.  We know that this will be a challenging year, a year full of possibilities! In your hands is the responsibility of changing the perspective on health worldwide. Always remember, that when you speak, you are speaking for students that go from Japan to Colombia, from Sudan to Kazakhstan, from Thailand to Slovenia. You have now even more power to change the world and I believe, that all of us together, will achieve great things this year. You were chosen because you the Federation believe that you have the best qualities and ideas to undertake this journey that will change your life. Once again, congratulations for taking this step forward and let’s start a new future for the health worldwide, today!

Thank you for your attention,

Agostinho Sousa,
IFMSA President of 2014/15

Interview with Moa, IFMSA Liaison Officer for SCORP

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recently interviewed Moa Herrgard, IFMSA Liaison Officer for Human Rights and Peace Issues (SCORP) about medical ethics. It was originally published online on Health Care in Danger Project Page:

IFMSA represents more than 1, 2 million medical students. We are the medical professionals of tomorrow, future global health leaders and change makers of today. We empower and assist our members to implement their dreams and thereby create a change in the community around them during a crucial period of their careers. We have recently with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Health Care in Danger project recognized the need of enhanced actions to adders the violence towards health care workers and facilities within conflicts.

IFMSA is a very active NGO representing medical students in more than 100 countries. Why do you think it is important that medical students are involved in the Health Care in danger project?

Within the medical curriculum worldwide, the issue of health ethics while under threat of violence or legal action has little or no inclusion. The knowledge regarding threats and violations of health relate aspects of international humanitarian law, human rights and health ethics, are typically poorly understood by medical students. In order to ensure that future health care personnel are fully aware about their professional ethics and the corresponding rights and responsibilities, it is important that students not only are given knowledge but also are presented with opportunities to discuss and reflect upon health ethics and its implications.  It is crucial that future medical professionals possess the insight in the medical behaviors important for ensuring health equality, and violations of health ethics in today’s and tomorrow’s society.  IFMSAs members will be the future physicians dealing with these issues, but the fact is that the situation is already affecting medical students around the world. There have been attacks, for example mentioned in Central Africa, on students who stayed to help in medical emergencies. These students had to take refuge in safe locations.

With necessary knowledge and skills medical students worldwide are natural actors in advocating for enhancing health ethics in the medical curriculum, with special attention to violations of health ethics in today’s society. This is a long term and sustainable but still concrete action in order to create the necessary change within the health care system and regain the respect for medical ethics, as well as equip health care workers with knowledge and skills on how to effectively act within scenarios of violence towards health care workers and facilities.

Young people have in the past repetitively proven strength of creating behavioral change in our local, national and global society. We have a unique capacity to raise awareness in our communities and amongst fellow peers and our federations multicultural and multinational platforms provide a basis of cultural and behavioral change. The current violations of human rights, medical ethics and international humanitarian law the on-going violence towards health care workers and facilities result in need this change as one action of creating a sustainable and long term end of the current problem. 

As future medical professionals our thoughts and opinions in discussions are important, as we are the inheritors of plans of actions to handle the situation

What is the role that IFMSA can play to raise awareness about this yet underestimated issue and promote concrete solutions?

IFMSA have a vision of a world where health care systems, health care personnel and patients, in conflict zones as well as in non-combat zones, enjoy the fullest respect in accordance with the principles stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is a world where health care personnel have the possibility to work in accordance with health ethics and are encouraged by society to do so without risk of personal threats or legal reprimands. There are an increased number of actors in international society recognizing the violence towards health care workers and facilities. Together we all share this vision.

Medical students are young people, ready and willing to take our responsibilities of addressing this problem based upon our resources. Young people and students have proven a unique capacity to raise awareness in our communities and amongst fellow peers and also lead cultural and behavioral change through our multicultural and multinational networks.

Can you explain us a little bit more in details your initiative “Ethical Principles of Health Care in Conflict and Other Emergencies “?

By initiating the project “Ethical Principles of Health Care in Conflict and Other Emergencies” IFMSA will take its responsibility in reaching the vision. This project is a platform for medical students worldwide to bring attention to one of the largest threat to medical ethics in history. We aim to take the attention from aspirational policy development to on-the-ground actions. 

Through the platform the project provide we will address the lack of knowledge of health ethics, including current threats against it as well as law set to protect it. It takes standpoint from ICRC’s project Healthcare in Danger and uses material produced by ICRC. We see the need to call upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law and the Declaration of Geneva to raise awareness on threats toward health ethics among medical students, medical professionals as well as society. By this project we intend to create a behavioral change where health ethics have the fullest respect and health professionals are not hindered in its implementation.

The project “Ethical Principles of Health Care in Conflict and Other Emergencies” is expected to integrate components of delivering advocacy and building capacity amongst medical students through workshops, trainings and symposiums. The workshop is directed to medical students, providing basic knowledge on the topic and introducing participants to possibilities of further involvement in the project. The thematic symposium will in addition to this enhance the political focus on the issue of violence towards health workers, and the importance of medical professionals being aware of the current threat to health ethics, International Humanitarian Law and Human Right to Health. The training will more comprehensively increase medical students’ knowledge about health ethics, International Humanitarian Law and Human Right to Health, and threats concerning their implementations. Focus on and exemplified by violence towards health workers.

After perusing capacity building the medical students are fully prepared to deliver meaningful advocacy, create awesomeness campaigns and educated peer-to-per.

What are the achievements (linked to this specific initiative) that you foresee for the upcoming years?

Within the coming years we, the IFMSA, aim to achieve the following and thereby make a meaningful contribution to one of the largest threat to medical ethics in history.

  1. Future medical professionals have increased knowledge about health ethics, the medical behavior is important for ensuring health equality, and violations of health ethics in today’s society. Future medical professionals will have an appreciation of the challenges posed by violations of health ethics when medical professionals are either threatened by or the victims of violence.
  2. Medical students worldwide are equipped with skills and knowledge in order to advocate for enhancing health ethics in the medical curriculum, with special attention given to violations of health ethics in today’s society. Special attention has been given to the violations of health ethics when medical professionals and health care personnel are the victim of violence or threat of violence.
  3. A natural platform for medical students to discuss health ethics, obstacles in implementing it and the danger if it is not fully respected and maintained has been created.
  4. A natural platform for medical students to develop and implement peer-to-peer education of health ethics and violations of health ethics, including knowledge on the increasing violence towards health workers has been created.


Do you want to take actions toward a long term-solution of the violence towards health workers and facilities? Do you want to enhance the knowledge of this threat against health ethics amongst your fellow peers and equip them with capacities to make contribution in the global movement addressing this topic?

-> Contact Chiara Zanette (  at International Committee of the Red Cross Health Care in Danger Project and she will invite you to the Health Care in Danger platform. 

-> Contact the IFMSA Liaison Officer of Human Rights and Peace, Moa M Herrgård, to learn more about the IFMSA project Health Care in Danger – “Ethical Principles of Health Care in Conflict and Other Emergencies”. 


SECSE 2014: What an Experience!

The 2nd edition of the Southern European Cooperation on Sexual Education (SECSE) conference took place in Catalonia on September 4th-7th and was hosted by AECS-Catalonia near Barcelona (Spain). The conference allowed participants to discuss sexual health education across their national member organizations (NMOs) and to share methods whilst learning from each other. The theme of this 2nd edition was Transsexuality and Transgender Identity.

The 12 participant NMOs are Greece, Italy, Croatia, France, Malta, Spain, Catalonia, Portugal, Turkey, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Serbia. And as last year, some externals also were present, coming from Switzerland, UK, The Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Egypt and Lebanon. 

Below, a few words from the participants on their experience:

The Pre-SECSE took place from the 31st of August to the 3rd of September, it was divided into two workshops: an IPET and an Advanced IPET on Sexuality. Throughout these days we got to learn everything about Peer Education, we developed our soft skills and we improved our knowledge in many areas related to sexual health and sexuality.

The first day of the SECSE started with the welcome session for all the participants in Barcelona and a tour around the old town. Later on, we went to the venue and had an awesome welcome party AECS style, which obviously involved a lot of fun and team building. The Method Exchange sessions started on Friday, approaching topics like negotiation during sex and basic sexual education among many others. Furthermore, we had the first Theme Event session, a round table about gender identity where three amazing externals exposed their view on the topic.

On Saturday, the remaining SECSE countries facilitated their Method Exchange sessions, addressing more specific topics like HIV testing  its social implications and gender based violence. In the afternoon, a plastic surgeon gave us a conference on sex reassignment surgeries and we also had a session on how to create new Peer Education methods. Sadly,  SECSE came to an end,  after getting plenty of feedback from the participants we had to say goodbye and put an end to one of the most awesome experiences (if not the most) AECS-Catalonia has ever experienced.

We thank AECS-Catalonia for hosting the event! You can find pictures from the event on our Facebook page right here.