The 2nd Lancet Commission on Climate Change and Health is out!

The new report of the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change released its second report (following the one released in 2009) entitled “Health and climate change: policy responses to protect public health”. It is fully and available for free online: http://www.thelancet.com/commissions/climate-change-2015.

This report goes one step further from usual scientific publications, not only does it summarized the science behind climate change and health issues and the consequences already being felt today but it also emits a number of policy recommendations to be taken up in the discussions leading to the upcoming global climate agreement that is expected to be adopted this December 2015 at the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris.

Those recommendations are nicely illustrated by the Global Climate Health Alliance, of which IFMSA is a member of:

Key Recommendations

Most of the recommendations of the commission are what is called “no-regret” policies, i.e. policies that if uptaken do not represent a trade-off from investment of resources in another sector since the health benefits by themselves justify their implementation, and their contributions to climate change only being added benefit.

For those advocates among you, the commission also produced short and sweet briefs that are all bundled up and simplified in order to be directly used with specific groups and you can find those here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/public-policy/public-policy-briefings/LancetHealthClimate.

In short, reframing the climate change challenge as an opportunity the commission aims to foster further optimism among those who work in a field which is too often plagued by dark predictions of a difficult future. The commission highlights all that we can still do to overcome this challenge as a united humanity, working to also ensure that the most vulnerable are also protected from climate change and brought to a better state of living by action on climate change.

From an IFMSA perspective, the Federation will continue its advocacy and capacity building efforts in the field of climate change and health. Some interesting activities and initiatives are coming up, such as:

  • a 3-day workshop during the pre-General Assembly August Meeting 2015, taking place in Ohrid, Macedonia;
  • the creation of a training manual on climate change and health, in collaboration with the World Health Organization. A call for collaborators has been sent out, and deadline to apply is July 8th. Details and Application Form are available here;
  • the preparations of the advocacy strategy for the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) next December, which include in-between ADP sessions (read blog entries from previous delegations here). The objective is to ensure that health considerations are included in the final agreement.

A lot is coming up in the next few months, so make sure you stay updated!


Entry written by Yassen Tcholakov (IFMSA-Québec), Diogo Martins (IFMSA Liaison Officer to UNESCO), Arthur Mello (IFMSA Liaison Officer for Public Health) and Claudel P-Desrosiers (IFMSA Vice-President for External Affairs)

Research Integrity Day

Everyone has a role and responsibility to play in promoting a healthy and positive research culture that is conducive to the training of young scientists and the realization of scientific innovations for the benefits of humankind. – National Institute of Health

The IFMSA Research Integrity Day is a chance to keep learning about Research, with a special regard on integrity.

What is Research Integrity?

Why is it so important to have research skills and to have research methodologies integrated in the undergraduate education?The scientific research enterprise is built on a deep foundation of trust: “this trust will endure only if the scientific community devotes itself to exemplifying and transmitting the values associated with ethical scientific conduct”. The concept of Research integrity includes: the use of honest and verifiable methods in proposing, performing, and evaluating research; reporting research results with particular attention to adherence to rules, regulations, guidelines and following commonly accepted professional codes or norms.

In 1974 Dr. William Summerlin at the New York City’s Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research startled the scientific world by reporting that he had discovered a way to avoid the reaction that has resulted in the failure of so many transplant operations: the tendency of the body’s immune system to destroy foreign tissue. But other scientists were unable to repeat Summerlin’s experiments, and skepticism about his results grew steadily. Since when Summerlin was accused by colleagues of painting the skin of some laboratory mice. “Painting the mice” has become a synonym for research fraud, after his deceptive behavior that might have been due to a combination of mental and physical exhaustion, a heavy clinical and experimental workload, and pressure to publicize positive results. This is just a old story but there are many similar ones till nowadays.

In many scientific fields, results are often difficult to reproduce accurately, being obscured by noise, artifacts, and other extraneous data. That means that even if a scientist does falsify data, they can expect to get away with it – or at least claim innocence if their results conflict with others in the same field. There are no “scientific police” who are trained to fight scientific crimes; all investigations are made by experts in science but amateurs in dealing with criminals. It is relatively easy to cheat although difficult to know exactly how many scientists fabricate data.

Ghostwriting is another example of cheating, the phenomenon where someone other than the named author(s) makes a major contribution. This is somethign to hide the drug companies. It incorporates plagiarism and has an additional element of financial fraud.

Career pressure: watch out! Science is still a very strongly career-driven discipline. Scientists depend on a good reputation to receive ongoing support and funding, and a good reputation relies largely on the publication of high-profile scientific papers. Hence, there is a strong imperative to “publish or perish”. Clearly, this may motivate desperate (or fame-hungry) scientists to fabricate results.

Would you like to know more? And share your experiences? Join us! You can find here our Research Integrity Package to participate to the online campaign: http://tinyurl.com/ifmsaresearchintegrityday

You will also find details about what you could do at national level and give your contribution by filling the survey about your personal experience. The IFMSA Working Group on Research Integrity is currently conducting a survey to study the status of medical education worldwide, with a focus on the implementation of research related programmes. It would be great if you could involve as many Universities as you can in your countries, to spread the Research values at local level and to inspire the students to organize initiatives.

Join us also on our Facebook event and please use our official hashtags #IFMSAResearchIntegrity and #ifmsaRI2015 to promote your initiatives on social media!

Entry written by Ivana Di Salvo, IFMSA Liaison Officer for Research and Medical Association (lorma@ifmsa.org)

Professionalisation of Medical Humanitarian Actors

The humanitarian landscape is changing. The number of actors is increasing along with the willingness to assist and help the ones in need. But do we have the capacity to really help in an efficient way? Are the medical guidelines, the kind of diseases our patients have the same in disaster settings as in the hospital back home?

Today emergency medicine is a specialised medical degree and the world is starting to recognise  the need for special training for humanitarian medical professionals.

The IFMSA have, during the year 2014 – 2015, hosted a series of extracurricular trainings on Disaster Medicine & Emergency Risk Management for our members. Computer-based simulations of medical humanitarian response have been facilitated by CRIMEDIM, a research and training institute in Italy delivering the European Master for Disaster Medicine. Discussions on medical ethical dilemmas have been facilitated by IFMSA members with support from the International Committee of Red Cross and Crescent (ICRC).

European Master for Disaster Medicine

IFMSA is taking part and contributing to the professionalisation of medical humanitarian actors. During May this year we were invited to the European Master in Disaster Medicine to share best practice of engaging students in Disaster Risk Management. The participating doctors from around the world were fascinated and inspired by our actions, they wanted to help us grow and they wanted to mentor our members in disaster medicine.

Photo: Picture taken in the European Master in Disaster Medicine Full-Scale Simulation, hosted by CRIMEDIM together with Italian Army.

During my two days in the European Master in Disaster Medicine, I also attended the Real Size Disaster simulations. The Italian Army had set up a field hospital. A plane crash in a low-resource setting was simulated and medical students from the IFMSA NMO SISM-Italy were playing the role of casualties. The students of the European Master were the response personnel. Witnessing this was an experience beyond my expectations. It was not just not a confirmation of the importance of preparing medical personnel before working in the humanitarian field, but also a source of inspiration and insight in how the medical humanitarian response is coordinated in reality.

Photo: The 1st International Summer Course for Trainers in Disaster Medicine. Apply before July 10th to be able to take in this unique experience.

Training for Medical Students – 1st International Training of Disaster Medicine Trainers

Do you also want to experience this? Do you as an IFMSA member want to enhance your knowledge and skills of Disaster Medicine and Disaster Risk Management? There is currently a call for participants to attend an International Residential Course for the Training of Disaster Medicine Trainers. For more information about this IFMSA Activity, read this brochure. Remember to apply before the 10th of July by filling out this form. selected participants will be informed by the mid of July.

Entry written by IFMSA Liaison Officer for Human Rights, Moa M Herrgård
With support from Training for Disaster Medicine Trainers team;  Patrick Achkar from IFMSA-Québec, Monika Bednarek from IFMSA Poland, Giancarlo Bruno from SISM-Italy, Eleonora Leopardi from SISM-Italy, IFMSA Project Support Director Ljiljana Lukic