Report from WONCA Rural Health Conference 2015

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This year, from 14th to 18th of April I had a chance to participate in the 12th World Rural Health Conference organized by WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice (WWPRP) held in beautiful and historical city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. The conference welcomed more than thousand rural health practitioners from around the globe and many other members of WONCA. WONCA (World Organization of Family Doctors) is one of IFMSA institutional partners and an organization that has membership of around 500,00 family doctors from every corner of the world.

Rural and remote health is the interdisciplinary study of health and health care delivered in rural and or remote areas. It’s one of the most neglected areas of health care currently going through big human resources and recruitment crisis. While some countries have in place working plans that deal with involvement of students in rural health and afterwards offering promising careers in rural areas, most do not and face a big problem of understaffing and quality of care for the population living in the given area. During the conference different topics were tackled ranging from climate change and effect it has on rural area to recruitment of young doctors and students to rural area.

The role of IFMSA at the conference was to present views of medical students from our NMOs. Before the conference a survey on students interests on Primary Medicine and Rural Health was shared with our members. The results were presented afterwards at the conference workshop titled “Students’ Adventures in Rural Practice” and also during the scientific session, that took place after the main event. During this session, two members of WONCA Executive Board (Dr. Amanda Howe, president elect and Dr. Garth Manning, CEO) and the Chair of the Working party on Rural Medicine Dr. John Wynn-Jones came to participate and they got to hear our opinion on involvement of medical students in rural health, as well as the outcomes of our survey proving importance of medical students in solving of problems that rural health is faced with.

During the scientific sessions I presented outcomes of the survey to as many as 300 participants. Afterwards Dr. Bruce Chater, Head of Academic Discipline of Rural and Remote Medicine from the University of Queensland, Australia and chairman of the session congratulated us on the passion we have for the topic and stated, once again, that motivated medical students like us and young doctors play key role in future of rural health.

Before the conference, which officially started from the 15th of April, we were invited to participate at the pre-event, a meeting of the WONCA Working Party on Rural Health, where I participated in discussions on further involvement of medical students in future conferences and having medical students voice heard and acknowledged.

During the event I also had a chance to talk with the organizers of the WONCA World Rural Health conference taking place in Cairns, Australia about involvement of students into the conference and I was told how scholarships and grants will be available for students and that the organizers will try to involve as many students possible. They also tweeted how they are looking forward to having IFMSA and our members at the event in the future.

Rural Health is one of the topics that’s often left out of the medical curricula and while rural population accounts for 3,4 billion of the worlds population only selected medical schools have well elaborated curriculas on it. We as medical students must be involved in changing this and advocating for Rural Health to get same recognition and treatment as other global health problems. The future is in our hands and as keepers of this future we need to have an complete outlook on health and deal with every problem that arises be that in urban or rural area.
Entry written by Jozo Schmuch, European Regional Assistant for the Standing Committee on Public Health (SCOPH)

The Sendai Journey: Part 2

The road forward

” Enhance the resilience of national health systems, including by integrating disaster risk management into primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare, especially at the local level; developing the capacity of health workers in understanding disaster risk and applying and implementing disaster risk reduction approaches in health work; and promoting and enhancing the training capacities in the field of disaster medicine; and supporting and training community health groups in disaster risk reduction approaches in health programmes, in collaboration with other sectors, as well as in the implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005) of the World Health Organization ” – Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction

IFMSA Delegation in the Sendai Framework for DRR Negotiations within the 2nd Arab Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction
Post-2015 negotiations in United Nations Headquarter. It is crucial that the outcome of the Post-2015 Agenda recognise disaster risk reduction.

The 3rd UN World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) was not the end but the beginning, the beginning of enhanced actions on DRR. IFMSA already took the lead and expressed our Voluntary Commitments as an officially recognised outcome of the WCDRR. The Federation is now ready to take the next step from the hard work of policy design and focus on implementation. Hopefully the rest of the society will join us and take their responsibilities.

A handful of the stakeholders in the WCDRR have recognised the benefits of building the capacity of the future generation and have thereby included youth as a section in their voluntary commitments. This will result in enhanced investments in enhancing the capacity of the coming generation to take action on DRR.

The outcome of the negotiations consist of the so called Sendai Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction, which is based upon multi stakeholders negotiations and consultations the last year. IFMSA have been part of this process and contributed to create this international document that will guide investment and actions on DRR for the coming 15 years. The next step, facilitated by the UNISDR (United Nations Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction) is to create a Means of Implementation (MoI) to guide the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Action, as well as indicators to assist in the monitoring. So far IFMSA and the Major Group for Children and Youth have not been welcomed to be part of this process. The UNISDR and the co-chair for WCDRR did not provide a transparent and inclusive process of its creation, but kept it looked to handpicked stakeholders. We hope that they will listen to us and let us back into the room. The indicators and the MoI is amongst all what will be used in the everyday life cross sectionally throughout the world.

Important to remembers is thought that the Sendai Framework for DRR is the first milestone in the Post2015 Agenda. We have three larger process in front of us still to be finalised and adopt a new international framework – the Finance for Development, the Sustainable Development Goals and the new Climate Change Framework. In order to reach the sustainable world we aim for, it is crucial to recognize DRR in these frameworks as well. IFMSA will continue to act through the UN MGCY in order to ensure that our policies are heard and implemented in the outcome documents of these processes. You are welcome to join our collaborative efforts!

The entry was written by IFMSA Project Support Director Liljana Lukic, bvmd Germany members Christopher Schürmann and Philipp Münzert, IFMSA Egypt members Majid Shangab and Aia Raafat, IFMSA-China member Wing Sum Li, AMSA USA member Leo Lopez, CIMSA ISMKI member Dhiya Khoirunnisa, AMSA Singapore member Val Tan, IFMSA-Sweden member Anna Theresia Ekman and IFMSA Liaison Officer for Human Rights & Peace Moa M Herrgård.


IFMSA Voluntary Commitments
for the Sendai Framework for DRR

  1. Increase knowledge and build capacity among future medical professionals on how to manage risk and challenges for public health in disaster prevention, preparedness, response and recovery, including medical, public health and humanitarian dimension of disasters and complex-security environments. ‘
  2. INcrease knowledge and build capacity among future medical professionals about medical ethics in complex–security environments, International Humanitarian Law, the Declaration of Human Rights including the Right to Health and the medical professional behavior important for ensuring healthy equality, access to services and people-centered care before, during and after disasters.
  3. Equip medical students with skills and knowledge in order to communicate their priorities in development of international and national policy, and to advocate for inclusion and strengthening of Disaster Risk Reduction in the medical curriculum.
  4. Take common actions and strengthen collaboration with governments and other stakeholders and actors on interdisciplinary platforms and events to improve disaster risk reduction and reduce risks to people’s health.

The full text of the IFMSA Voluntary Commitment to Sendai Framework for DRR can be found here:

Research Integrity in Medical Student Curricula

Our society is evolving fast and scientific research plays a major role in that process. To make sure we continue advancing, we need a stable basis. This can only be achieved when research results are reliable. However, as we see an increase in retractions of publications, conducting research on an genuine base is not as obvious as it seems. The worst part of the spectrum of research integrity is fraud, falsification and plagiarism and people conducting research on such a way are often aware of their cheating. However, there are a lot of questionable research practices, that are not so evident to classify as cheating or acceptable behavior.

Education on conducting genuine research plays a major role in gaining understanding about what is research integrity and which research practices are not allowed. This education is lacking in a lot of medical curricula worldwide, but the overall state of the problem was never investigated. Therefore, the Small Working Group on Medical Science & Research is conducting a study to assess the current status of research within the medical curriculum in universities worldwide.

Hence, we kindly invite you to fill our survey, in order to improve medical education worldwide and as such the reliability of research. We will be very thankful if you would also spread our word within your country, making the results of our survey more profound.

The IFMSA recognizes the importance of Research skills within the Federation and our NMOs, both for our medical studies and for our future career of physicians. Research is indeed a fundamental component of Medicine and impacts our studies, our discoveries and our patients. Unfortunately, many universities fail to offer a proper training related to methodology and integrity. A call to action is paramount as we witness a rising number of research misconduct worldwide. Within the federation it is not only useful as baseline for research exchanges but it plays a role in all of the Standing Committees.

This is the reason why we have decided to design a study in order to assess the current status of research within the Medical Curriculum in universities covered by National Member Organizations (NMO). This will allow us to draw conclusions about the overall state of the problem. We encourage you to take part in the study, this is the link of the survey:

You can also take active part spreading it in your NMO and organize related sessions to discuss this issue during your local or national meetings.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at if you have questions regarding our study.

Entry written by Koen Demaegd (SCORE Development Assistant on Academic Quality and Recognition) and Ivana Di Salvo (IFMSA Liaison Officer for Research and Medical Associations).