(أم الدنيا) Om El-donia means ‘Mother of the World’.
St Paul’s Bay, Malta 2016
I will never forget my first General Assembly (GA) March Meeting held in the island nation of Malta in 2016. In my first year of university, before I could tell the difference between an artery and a vein, I took up the opportunity to attend this international conference hosted by the International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (IFMSA). So in my fourth week of university I packed my luggage and what savings I had at the time and travelled to this Island country in the Mediterranean Sea; where you could probably drive from one end of the country to the other in less than a day.
The GA was intoxicating; mixing ideas, perspectives and knowledge in a global environment with a thousand medical students from across the world is an incredible experience both personally and professionally, and one that stays with you for life. I learnt about the different types of national projects happening across the world, I learnt about exchange programs between countries that have existed for over 50 years, I learnt about different initiatives that IFMSA pursue in collaboration with WHO and the UN to help meet the SDGs, and I learnt about different cultures that I otherwise would not have ever had the privilege to do so back home in Australia. I made friends across the world, many of which who I still talk to today and see at GAs. On top of all this I met some incredible Australians; GH Chair 2016 Bethany Holt and 2016 Vice Chair International (VCI) Tom Pearson, Charlotte O’Leary, past JCU President Sophie Manoy among many other amazing individuals!
Fast forward two years and I found myself as VCI and leading of a group of 13 talented Australians in Hurghada, Egypt.
For 6 non-stop days in early March we worked together as a delegation in collaboration with other nations on international advocacy matters such as policies on Gender Equity, Anti-microbial Resistance, Social Accountability in Medical Schools, and Neglected Tropical Diseases. We discussed and voted on new countries to join the Federation, and elected the new IFMSA Executive Board of 2019. We argued about grammar, we overturned bylaws to allow developing nations to be part of the election process to join the Federation, and we did the Hawaii 5-0 in the middle of plenary.
Every day the delegation was split into different stream sessions deemed ‘Standing Committees’ across various interest areas of the IFMSA; Public Health, Medical Education, Professional Exchanges, Human Rights and Peace, and Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights. We all had a chance to discuss matters we were passionate about, and engage the different levels of activities and national projects that occur around the world.
It is hard to describe what exactly happens at a GA, or what I mean by ‘the magic of IFMSA’. But everytime I come home from a GA, I am happily reminded of the greatest lesson imparted to me; I realised that medical students are incredible drivers of change. On top of all that we do already, we are able to make a positive impact on so many levels, across so many different countries.
“…I realised that medical students are incredible drivers of change.”
Look around you and see just how many projects both nationally and locally within your university are being done to address so many areas of healthcare, social justice, and advocacy. It is this culture of proactive engagement and commitment that has fostered the creation of organisations like AMSA, and the IFMSA. We are a nation of passionate, driven, optimistic individuals and I want to enable us all to make the change we want in the world. To take part in global matters, and to learn from our international neighbours.
So I implore you; take the chance and apply for a GA; with the application for Montreal August Meeting just around the corner it will be an opportunity not to be missed! See you in Canada 😉
With warm hugs
Vice Chair International, AMSA Global Health
CALL OUT- IFMSA 67TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY AUGUST MEETING MONTREAL 2018
Pre-GA: 29th July – 2nd August 2018
GA: 2nd August – 7th August 2018
Post-GA: 8th August – 10th August 2018