WONCA World Rural Health Conference

From April 3rd to 5th 2014 the beautiful city of Gramado in Brazil welcomed physicians from different parts of the world to discuss a difficult and full of challenges reality: Rural Healthcare. The 12th World Rural health Conference was organized by the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice (WWPRP), a component of the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA), and IFMSA partner.


Rural health care, defined as health care services for residents in rural and remote areas, is essential to improve accessibility to health. However, the reality of health in those areas is becoming even more neglected by our health leaders.  The problems of rural health represent an  “emerging need” that has to be tackled as a global health issue. During the event different kind of strategies were discussed in order to guarantee the access to health services in rural territories, considering all challenges that the world is facing right now to reach those areas with such a lack of human resources, materials and access. In the debates medical school role was included as well, in specific how the rural health can be included in the basic curriculum.



Arthur Mello (center of photograph) Regional Assistant for the Americas was selected as IFMSA representative and he was invited to be part of the WWPRP meeting, a pre-event where the party was discussing aspects regarding WONCA organization, and prospects for the next years in the field of family medicine, primary care and rural health.


We need medical students energy to keep WONCA growing around the world”, those were the words Dr. John Wynn-Jones used when Arthur finished the presentation “Medical Students in Primary Health Care – Opportunities and Prospects”. The presentation included different aspects about our Federation and its structure, including also how medical students are looking forward to work with different aspects of primary health care, including rural health.


The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) strongly supports improved access to rural and remote healthcare as stated in the Policy Statement on Rural and Remote Care approved during the 63rd General Assembly on 6th March 2014 in Hammamet, Tunisia. This document aims to calls upon organizational and national leaders, healthcare professionals, medical students and general activists in order to promote and improve medical education efforts surrounding the need for improved rural and remote healthcare, including also innovative medical technologies such as telemedicine and mobile health technologies.


The WONCA executive board, represented in the meeting by Dr Amanda Howe, President Elect, highlighted how important is the connection between WONCA and IFMSA, considering that Medical Students are one of the keys to change the reality of health in rural and isolated areas. We are the ones who need to change this reality now if we want to guarantee a quality of rural health care when we will become doctors. She also assured that IFMSA  will be invited and involvedin 19th European Conference in July 2014,in the 13th World Rural health Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia  2015 and  in the WONCA World Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2016.
Rural Health Care is a very important topic to be discussed, unfortunately those areas continue to be forgotten by public health politics that most of the times are focused only for  urban areas. However, medical students can be involved to change this reality, advocating for a decent rural health care, improving its discussion in basic medical education and promoting the importance of a real universal health coverage, where urban and rural areas have the opportunities to access basic health services.


Arthur Mello, SCOPH Regional Assistant for the Americas

Ivana Di Salvo, Liaison Officer to Research and Medical Associations

A starting point for raising awareness about the relationship between Information Communication Technology and Health Care among Medical Students

Health care has been deeply transformed by digital revolution at every level and many new paradigms allowed by the application of Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in medicine are already mainstream in the everyday medical practice. The young students and doctors are expected to have a deep understanding of eHealth and its implications. eHealth topic do not receive the deserved attention by the average medical student, and this is not acceptable in a generation of future doctors that is going to be deeply influenced by these technologies.

The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), decided to advocate to increase the awareness about eHealth among medical students from all over the world together with IsfTeH (International Society for Telemedicine & eHealth). ISfTeH collaboration, from 2013, is supporting the IFMSA technological platform involving students in this new field of health assistance and education – available through the utlization of IT facilities can help reducing the assistance gap in less privilege and remote communities, where not all the current professional expertise and diagnostic equipment is available. Nowadays, Telemedicine and eHealth are important tools to be used in favour of improving the care of patients, with significant impact when implemented in underserved areas of the world. [1]

IFMSA participated at Med-e-Tel event that took place in Luxembourg from 9 to 11 April represented by Omar Cherkaoui, IFMSA New Technologies Support Division Director.




The ISfTeH through Med-e-Tel facilitate the international dissemination of knowledge and experience in Telemedicine and eHealth, to provide access to recognized experts in the field worldwide, and to offer unprecedented networking opportunities. Many different stakeholders were involved in this globalevent where it was possible be brought face-to-face to share aspirations, learn from research and experiences, show the possibilities, understand the market, discover new applications. The vast conference program featuring over 150 presentations and workshops, allowred to learn from experience built up by experts from around the world: applications and best practice examples, future trends in Telemedicine and eHealth, and their effect on the healthcare system, update on new developments that will allow you to stay ahead and make more effective and efficient use of technologies to improve quality of health, medical and social care.

During the Med-e-Tel conference, IFMSA presented an abstract and a poster, reporting thus how it has tackled

the eHealth topic with three initiatives during the 63nd March Meeting in Hammamet, Tunisa: Policy Statement about eHealth has been approved, a three days workshop about eHealth was run in the days before the GA (preGA Health 2.0 Workshop), discussion about the role of the IFMSA Technology Officers as first advocates. These initiatives have been realized thanks to the collaboration between IFMSA, ISfTeH (International Society of telemedicine and eHealth) and WHO. ISfTeH encourages the involvement of medical students recognizing the potential to facilitate its dissemination. As future professionals, IFMSA students are aware of this new field of assistance and education, which moreover can help in reducing the assistance gap in less privilege and remote countries, where there is lack of expertise and equipment. Non-formal education plays a crucial role for promoting changes and developing key opinion leaders.

IFMSA strongly supports the advancement and accessibility to the use of eHealth, to deliver health and healthcare services and information over large and small distances. We, as IFMSA, believe that the obstacles that currently hold back the further implementation of eHealth, can be dealt with by better collaboration between different stakeholders in the health care sector. All of those actions are necessary also to provide access to eHealth trainings within undergraduate and postgraduate medical education, to offer access to additional trainings in eHealth to practicing physicians, to invest in the widespread of affordable phone and internet coverage as much as possible, to raise awareness on the benefits of eHealth and to invest in infrastructure to provide access to all to participate in eHealth.


  • Omar Cherkaoui, IFMSA New Technologies Support Division Director
  • Ivana Di Salvo, Liaison Officer to Research Medical Associations
  • Angelo D’Ambrosio

IFMSA at the World Health Summit Regional Meeting in Latin America

Today starts for the first time in Latin America the World Health Summit Regional Meeting and IFMSA is part of it. Hosted by Brazil and organized by the University of Sao Paulo this is a unique opportunity for the federation to participate in the different discussions about key global health challenges in the Americas region and in the world.

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The World Health Summit (WHS) is the annual conference, in Berlin, Germany, of the M8 Alliance of Academic Health Centers, Universities and National Academies. It is hosted by the government of Germany and organized by the WHS Foundation GmbH, with its Organizing, Executive and Media Office located at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. It is one of the world’s foremost gatherings of global health leaders where IFMSA year after year has increasingly expanded its participation.

In this occasion, for the next three days, IFMSA delegates Arthur Mello, RA SCOPH, Maxime Leroux, RA SCORP, Gustavo Fitas, PAMSA NMO Assistant and Jacqueline Forti, IFMSA-Brazil, together with researchers, health experts, academia, civil society, policy makers and private initiatives will collaborate to build up a stronger response to address challenges in medical research, global health and health care delivery in America. The summit will consist in workshops, keynote lectures, symposia and poster presentations about different topics related to the five tracks in which the program is organized:

1. Healthy Life Expectancy

2. Urban health/Health in Megacities

3. Increase Research Capacities to Incorporate Technologies

4. Management of Health Systems to Ensure Universal Coverage

5. Health education

The Federation supports the purpose of the WHS by promoting youth interdisciplinary collaboration in global governance for health. IFMSA,  as a network of National Member Organizations of future physicians around the world is committed to propose innovative solutions and advocate for the inclusion of medical students and future physicians in national and international health forums.