Building Blocks of IFMSA—Vision and Mission
As IFMSA takes on greater societal challenges in the second decade of the 21st Century, IFMSA, a federation of more than sixty years is taking on an internal review of values, principles and objectives.
IFMSA is aiming to create a new vision and a review of the mission statement. Over the past years, IFMSA has expanded its priorities to include societal issues such as climate change, universal health care, social determinants of health, global health education, health systems, discrimination, non-communicable diseases, mental health and many more to address those issues that challenge achieving quality, accessible health for all.
IFMSA remains as committed to its standing committees and Initiatives:
- Public Health
- Sexual and Reproductive Health, including HIV/AIDS
- Medical Education
- Human Rights and Peace
- Professional and Research Exchanges
- Global Health Equity
The words and thoughts that inspire our members….
(These are the direct thoughts of IFMSA members from the year 2011/12…with many more thoughts to come in the year 2012/13).
IFMSA experience provided through IFMSA:
Fun/exciting/Interesting/enjoyment; Educational/Knowledge/Learning/informative; Training/ Experience/ skills; Challenging; Inspiring; Life changing; Motivating/motivation; Opportunity; Fantastic; Empowerment/Enabling; Energetic/ Enthusiastic; Friends/family/belonging/team/cooperative; Unity/unifying; Collaboration/ cooperation; Progressive/progress; Broaden thinking/open minded; Leadership
The organizational behavior/direction/activities/values:
Development oriented/development/professional development; Social/meeting/sharing/ to all; Projects; Integrity; Networking/partnerships/connections; Visionary/vision/ dream; Friends/family/belonging/team/ cooperative; Interactive/active; Exchange; Ambitious; Diversity/ accept difference; Collaboration/ cooperation; Unity/unifying; Medicine/health (public health)/Doctors/future of health care; Broaden thinking/open minded; Peace; Professional/practical; Making difference/impact/change/global impact; Community focused; Advocacy/intervene/influence; Initiative Responsibility
International/universal/global/worldwide; Collaboration/ cooperation; Biggest students run NGO in the world/leading students organization
Health for all
Good communications between Local Committees
More Legal Recognition
New S.C on new technologies
More career guidance and counseling
General Secretariat Office
More collaboration between Medical Students and other healthcare professions
Seeing IFMSA SCs goals coming to reality locally in the KCs
IFMSA African Bilateral Exchanges
More African Officials
More African Meetings (GAs, SRTs, RMs)
Integrated Policy Making
Medical Educations quality world wide
Direct impact on the community
Big Topics to focus on the next 10 years:
Maternal and infant mortality
The right to health
Health insurance scheme
Ways to reduce HIV
Female Genital Mutilation
Effect of corruption on the health sector in Africa
Attitude of health workers in health care delivery
Point to consider:
Culture and traditional ethics
More support for local efforts focused on transnational projects
Common goal for local efforts, doesn’t need same structure
Connected to local communities
Every member should understand what IFMSA is.
Translate IFMSA objective into a local context
Seek exposure via local media
Bringing organizational decisions down to local chapters, specially policy statements
National level: (how we want it after 10 years)
Representation in every nation with medical schools
Reaching more (or better 100%) students in Medical schools in each country
More tangible projects with public health influence (significant impact on society)
International: (how we want it after 10 years)
Total representation (100% countries and schools worldwide)
Leader of change in global issues: SDH, Pharma, Tobacco, Climate change, Human Rights
IFMSA Office (Head Quarters)
Be the voice of all Medical Students worldwide
Our values and principles
IFMSA was created to impact the world and to empower its members in taking their vision and ideas, and making them a reality. IFMSA has inspired generations of medical students to develop the leadership abilities and skills to take on challenges and to improve the world around them in a crucial period of their career. Engaging in IFMSA encourages both professional and personal collaborations irrespective of geographical, social, cultural, religious, racial, sexual and political differences. As a result, future doctors are becoming more culturally aware and sensitive physicians.
Principles (The IFMSA Constitution)
3.1 The federation pursues its aims without political, religious, social, racial, national, sexual or any other discrimination
3.2 The federation promotes humanitarian ideals among medical students and so seeks to contribute to the creation of responsible future physicians
3.3 The federation respects the autonomy of its members.
Objectives (The IFMSA Constitution)
4.1 The goal of the federation is to serve society and medical students all over the world through its member organizations by:
a) Empowering medical students in using their knowledge and capacities for the benefit of society.
b) Providing a forum for medical students throughout the world to discuss topics related to individual and community health, education and science and to formulate policies from such discussions.
c) Promoting and facilitating professional and scientific exchanges as well as projects and extracurricular training for medical students, thereby sensitising them to other cultures and societies and their health problems.
d) Providing a link between members, medical students’ associations and international organizations, and to encourage the cooperation between them for the ultimate benefit of society.
Mission Statement (IFMSA Bylaws):
The mission of IFMSA is to offer future physicians a comprehensive introduction to global health issues. Through our programs and opportunities, we develop culturally sensitive students of medicine, intent on influencing the transnational inequalities that shape the health of our planet.
- To expose all medical students to humanitarian and health issues, providing them with the opportunity to education themselves and their peers;
- To facilitate partnerships between the physician in training community and international organization working on health, education and social issues;
- To give all medical students the opportunity to take part in clinical and research exchange around the world;
- To provide a network that links active medical students across the globe, including student leaders, project managers and activists, so that they can learn from and be motivated by each other;
- To provide an international framework in which medical student projects can be realized;
- To empower and train medical students to become advocates in leading social change.
IFMSA is a federation that is run by student volunteers and aims to promote collaboration across borders. The Executive Board governs the organization, the liaison offers build external relations, and the standing committees, initiatives, support divisions and regions lead the programming of the organization. The national member organizations (NMOs) are the official decision making body, where members from each national member organization meet bi-annually to vote on IFMSA’s policies and elect the team of officials.
Our values in IFMSA align with reaching out to members around the globe and increasing opportunities for exchange, capacity building and fostering relations beyond borders.
While one of the world’s oldest and largest independent organization representing associations of medical students internationally, IFMSA’s family continues to grow—with more representation from underrepresented regions. IFMSA’s family over the years has grown.
At the 61st General Assembly, August Meeting 2012, we reached an astounding 114 NMOs in 107 countries. We also have 14 African countries being represented in IFMSA after this General Assembly. We welcomed IFMSA-SKN, Saint Kitts and Nevis, OMA-Albania, ODEM-Dominican Republic, SLMSA-Sri Lanka, SLEMSA-Sierra Leone, ZAMSA-Zambia, and IFMSA-Morocco at our past General Assembly.
IFMSA General Assemblies take us around the globe and strive to explore topics in medicine that are important to the global health community and the future of health professionals. In the past years, IFMSA has taken on several themes at the General Assemblies:
- Universal Health Care (AM2012—Mumbai, India)
- Youth and Social Determinants of Health (MM2012–Accra, Ghana)
- Health and the Future (AM2011—Copenhagen, Denmark)
- Health Equality and Disparity among the MDGs (MM2011—Jakarta, Indonesia)
- Health and the City (AM2010—Montreal, Canada)
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine (MM2010—Bangkok Thailand)
- Investing in Health of Children and Youth (AM2009—Ohrid, Macedonia)
- Conflicts and Health (MM2009—Hammamet, Tunisa) and many more.
Through our General Assembly themes our members get an opportunity to learn from experts and locals alike about social and health issues. The national hosting organization work with IFMSA to create theme events that not only address international hot topics, but also personalize it with having as much as possible locally, based panelists from the host-country.
IFMSA works both globally and locally. While our roots have always been think globally and work locally, in the past years, we have shifted away from that to reaching and working at levels—internally, regionally, nationally and locally.
Our members are active through their National Member Organizations (NMOs) at the local level—working on projects, going into the community and directly improving their communities through education, public health outreach and increasing awareness on key health topics ranging from Breast Cancer Awareness to Environmental Issues to Road Safety.
At the regional and international level, our members are building the international medical student platform on social and health issues. We advocate for patients, focus on access to essential medicines, support reforms to address climate change, participate in the sustainable development consultation process, raise attention to social determinants of health, shed light to youth issues, especially on reproductive health and sexual rights, but most importantly, we approach the training of becoming a doctor with a broader perspective.
The meetings we have attended over the year include high-level meetings to NGO sessions to student networks. Some of the meetings this year include:
- International UN related:
- Student Networks
- Professional Groups
- World Federation of Neurology
- World Medical Association (WMA)
- Special Interests
- World Health Summit
- International AIDS Conference
IFMSA has done a great deal over the years through the collaborative efforts of its National Member Organizations and inspired, motivated members around the world. However, there are still many more challenges for IFMSA to continue to strive to reach.
-Written by: Roopa Dhatt, IFMSA VPE 2011/12 and President 2012/13