Why you should apply for the IFMSA General Assembly (GA)
Over the years I have heard a lot about the IFMSA, the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations. For a long time it was a distant organisation which I could not relate to despite its impact and importance in the project I operate within, Sexpression:UK and its relation to Medsin. The IFMSA basically is what it says on the tin and ultimately acts as a place to learn, exchange ideas, develop projects and of course to quote “The Inbetweeners”: make “frieeends, *stick your thumbs up* IFMSA friends”.
When the opportunity to apply arose, I was hesitant at first, placing the Organisation and General Assembly meetings on a pedestal. This was mostly because the few people I knew who had attended previously were incredibly skilled, having led a lot of sessions. However this isn’t the general standard amongst the 1,000 delegates, many here to learn, not teach. You may have also heard of all the various acronyms such as SCORA, SCOPE, SCOPH-D, NORA, RC, VPI, NMO, etc, but you soon pick them up and conversations start sounding English again, despite all the other countries’ accents! So if you’re passionate about global health, apply when the opportunity arises, and you could be pleasantly surprised.
The pre-GA, a mini conference that happens before the GA, was exactly as I imagined, being smaller and in more intimate groups, which exposes the organisation in a more digestible way and provides a chance to remember a few names. There was 240 delegates in various workshops, this has swelled to 1,000 now the GA has kicked off. I’m in the gender inequalities and maternal health workshop. Inspiring external speakers, motivating workshops and passionate individuals. It’s intense but incredibly informative and moving with great discussion and fantastic speakers. The subject can be quite emotive with very real and depressing realities associated with the death of a mother during labour and the mechanisms that lead to it. Not to mention state actors enforcing forced sterilisation amongst other things. Yet within the despair there is hope. We have the technology and the knowledge to reduce maternal mortality, a burden the developing world carries almost entirely.
Now, we need the will and commitment more than ever as the 2015 Millennium Development Goals deadlines approach to help achieve them. The Gender inequalities group is working to put the issue at the top of the IFMSA advocacy agenda. We have a created a video (coming soon), planned the flash mob and hopefully the IFMSA will stand up for Women. ... our catch phrase.
Overall it is a fantastic experience, an opportunity to network and take action and a space in which you just may be able to help create a student movement worldwide, if lady luck is on your side.