IFMSA celebrates Stop TB Day 2015

StopTB3Today, March 24th 2015, marks the world’s Stop Tuberculosis (TB) Day.

Every year, we stand trying to ignite change, trying to gather attention and public awareness, trying to stop TB – a deadly disease that remains an epidemic in much of the world and that is tightly linked with social, health and economic inequities. We might not stop TB today, nor in the next few months, but we are confident that if everybody join their forces, implement the adequate policies and offer adapted care, we can have a healthy planet free of TB in the next decades.

In a world where one can travel and migrate easily, where the number of refugees and promiscuity rates are increasing, where living and working conditions rights are violated, risks of TB transmission are at their highest peak. Together we can work to STOP TB.

The biggest challenge currently faced in the fight against Tb is the Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB). This has become a major global public health crisis, as it is threatening the progress made in the global tuberculosis care, control and treatment success. Resistance can occur through improper use of antimicrobials and is often a result of inadequate treatment regimens, as well as a lack of patients’ compliance to finish their antimicrobial course. This is why education is crucial in stopping TB, as it helps patients understand why it is essential that they take the medicines for such a long time and sometimes without an apparent lack of symptoms. Education means talking to your patients about what causes TB, the way the disease is spread, how it is diagnosed, and what it is treated. Various researches have shown that patients who understand these concepts are more likely to adhere to their treatment. Last but not least, another challenge is bovine TB, as it has similar clinical symptoms with Human TB, and can lead to fatal results in terms of treatment and rehabilitatio if not properly diagnosed (more information in the STOP TB Toolkit below).

This is why IFMSA stronly agrees that the fight against TB need to be a collective and global one. Healthcare experts, professionals and individuals in-training from various health and social backgrounds must join forces and act as one.

In IFMSA, we are proud to be celebrating the Stop TB Day 2015. We have been preparing this campaign for the past couple of weeks and have supported our national members in various ways:

  • We have built up a coalition with the IVSA and IPSF to push for collaboration at the local and national level and have suggested short and long-term activities;
  • We got full support from the STOP TB Partnership for the campaign and got published an article on interprofessional collaboration (read the article).
  • We have published an informational toolkit adapted to various sorts of campaigns at the local level (click here);
  • We have created a picbadge (get it here) to be shared by the members on their social media accounts

And you, what will you do for the Stop TB Day 2015? Help us spread the STOP TB Partnership main message:

  1. Reach the estimated 3 million people that are not diagnosed with TB;
  2. Advocate to research for TB tests drugs to eradicate TB;
  3. Join the WHO Post-2015 End TB Strategy and targets (see link).

We warmly invite you to follow us on the SCOPH-IFMSA Facebook Group & to share your activities there! You can also register to our campaign form to let us know what you have been up to and for us to support your efforts!

Join us in our collective journey to STOP TB!

Skander Essafi,
Standing Committee on Public Health Director 2014-15
On behalf of the SCOPH International Team


IFMSA Building A Resilient, Disaster-Free Society

Updates from the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (#WCDRR2015)

東日本大震災. Higashi nihon daishinsai. The Great East Japan Earthquake. It was 2011, March, 11th. The most powerful earthquake hit Japan. Forth in the modern history. And then tsunami came.

Exactly 10 ears after the adaption of the Hyogo Framework for Action stakeholders have gathered to renew commitments to disaster risk reduction leading to a more resilient tomorrow. The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) was hosted by the City of Sendai in the Tohoku Area, striken by the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami.

16607631110_724eabc752_oBeing part of the UN Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY), IFMSA co-hosted the official Children and Youth Forum, supported by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). Led and organized by children and youth themselves, the Children and Youth Forum proved the extended commitment and dedication of young people to Disaster Risk Reduction. The Forum enabeled youth community leaders, advocates and global citizens to voice out the priorities of children and youth and to take actions onimplementation of the Post 2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. By equipping ourselves with a Toolbox for Resilience as an outcome of Children and Youth Forum, we reaffirmed our role as equal stakeholders and as part of the solution.

We were there to show that children and youth have been transformed from being merely a vulnerable group into a resource ensuring a sustainable society. As stated by the Post 2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, ‘children and youth are agents of change’. We are here to stay and are already rethinking ways to ensure resilience to disasters.

‘You are not leaders of tomorrow, you are already leader of today’

16802899236_5762c1601c_oIt is with those words that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recognized the engagement of and welcomed the 200 children and youth gathered from different countries and regions, standing as a small UN General Assembly in front of the UN Secretary General.

The UN Secretary General and the UN Envoy for Youth were introduced by Ms. Moa M Herrgard, UN MGCY Deputy Focal Point for Disaster Risk Reduction and IFMSA Liaison Officer of Human Rights and Peace. The Secretary General was greeted with a Quipú, an ancient art of communication passed down through generations.

Six children and youth representatives addressed the UN Secretary General, highlighting personal stories from their regions while emphasizing the importance of meaningful involvement of young people in ensuring world free of disaster. We also expressed concern as well as gratitude on the process so far, highlighting issues of insecurity,fragility and conflict as some of the contributing risk factors of disasters and disasters by themselves. Voicing out concerns about the relation between climate change and disasters we acknowledged the importance for all nations worldwide. Two of the youth were members of the IFMSA, Moa Herrgard (LO HRP) and Majid Shangab (IFMSA-Egypt).

In his address, the UN Secretary General acknowledged the importance of tackling intolerance, inequity, marginalization, insecurity, and extremism giving a special mention to groups of women, youth, indigenous people, and refugees. Urging us to unify and contribute meaningfully, children and youth were invited to work together to create a resilient tomorrow. Furthermore acknowledging the importance of youth participation, the Secretary General stressed the relevance and essentiality of youth inputs to global policies, including its framing and implementation.

Honoring the theme of Disaster Risk Reduction, the Secretary General addressed both natural disasters often precipitated with climate change, and man-made disastersthat cause human loss, fragility and insecurity. Reflecting the evolution of UN and its reform he seeked for dialogue and constructive solutions other than military means with youth as a one of the main stakeholders.

The Secreatry General concluded his speech by sending a clear message.

“I am asking you to raise your voices and try to cultivate your vision. As global citzens you are coming from many different countries. Geography and boundaries should not mean anything at these times.  I am asking you to raise your vision beyond your national boundaries and by doing this you are having the basic attitude of a global citizen. To be a global citizen, this is your task.’’

3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (UN WCDRR)

Held between 14th – 18th March 2015, in Sendai, Japan, it commemorated the 10 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. Several thousand participants attended, with numerous related events linked to the World Conference under the umbrella of building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters. The United Nations General Assembly Resolution for 2013 on International Strategy for Disaster Reduction gave a mandate to the World Conference to create a concise, focused, forward-looking, and action-oriented outcome document for disaster resilience.

Healthcare was one of the overarching topics present in the WCDRR. By engaging in Post 2015 Disaster Risk Reduction process, IFMSA has been advocating for the new directions and innovations that would ensure safe, and disaster free world, taking into account natural and man-made disasters. We have been advocating for safe and resilient hospitals, including safe working environment of healthcare workers in disasters, and equitable access to healthcare and medicines in disasters alongside WHO and other relevant organizations.

Now that the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 – 2030 has been adopted IFMSA will continue to work in the spirit of these words aiming to be part of the solution and implementing it at every level as mentioned in IFMSA’s Voluntary Commitments.

Entry written by Ljiljana Lukic (IFMSA Project Support Division Director), Anna-Theresia Ekman (IFMSA-Sweden VPE) and Sam Li (AMSA-HK). 

Photo credits go to Natthan Nguyen (Major Group of Children and Youth).

Medical Education at the EMR11

Earlier this month, almost 200 medical students from all over the East Mediterranean Region joined together for the annual regional meeting in the beautiful city of Cairo. Participants were divided into the standing committee sessions and I was lucky to have 18 wonderful people attending the SCOME sessions with me.

For a total of 14 working hours, EMR SCOMEdians discussed various issues, tackling different problems in the field medical education in the region. Even though most of the participants came from the EMR, there were various ideas presented different solutions to problems and wide range of creativity that can only be described as inspiring.

The sessions focused on different global topics in medical education, such as: programs, national activities done in different NMOs, the future work of SCOME, advocacy and work beyond the meeting. Through Small working groups, presentations and group discussions participants got the chance to expand on topics like global health education and Human resources for health. They also learned about the transition from projects to Programs in IFMSA. Discussions followed on the programs that SCOME is proposing in the March Meeting. EMR SCOMEdians also got to talk about meaningful student participation and advocacy which is an area of work that NMOs in the EMR have many problems with.

While the meeting was mainly for the countries of the EMR region, we were lucky to have participants from a wide variety of countries. Delegates from The Netherlands, Pakistan, and the United States joined students from countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Oman and many others which gave the session a lot of variety which helped offer a lot of different points of views and gave the sessions a sense of global atmosphere.

It was an absolute privilege for me to be able to facilitate the sessions in this regional meeting and while this meeting is over EMRians will meet again next year in the city of Amman, Jordan for the 12th EMR regional meeting and after this meeting I can only say that I am counting the days to see SCOMEdians come together again in Amman.

And for the last time I would like to say #Saba7o,

Abdulrahman Nofal