International Federation of Medical Students' Associations
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (February 2012)|
|Motto||Medical students worldwide|
|Headquarters||Academic Medical Center|
|123 National Member Organizations|
|Karim M. Abuzeid|
The International Federation of Medical Students' Associations (IFMSA) is a non governmental organization representing associations of medical students. It was founded in May 1951, and currently maintains 123 member organisations from 116 countries on six continents. IFMSA envisions a world in which all medical students unite for global health and are equipped with the knowledge, skills and values to take on health leadership roles locally and globally. Its mission statement reads: " IFMSA unites medical students worldwide to lead initiatives that impact positively the communities we serve. IFMSA represents the opinions and ideas of future health professionals in the field of global health, and works in collaboration with external partners. IFMSA builds capacity through training, project and exchanges opportunities, while embracing cultural diversity so as to shape a sustainable and healthy future."
The International Federation of Medical Students' Associations was one of the numerous international student organizations set up directly after the end of the Second World War. The first meeting that saw the establishment of the Federation was held in Copenhagen, Denmark in May 1951. The first members of this new organization were England, Austria, the Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Denmark. London saw the first General Assembly of IFMSA in July 1952. The meeting had a total of thirty participants from ten countries.
The growth of IFMSA through the years has been remarkable. Starting from the exclusively European founding organizations the Federation has expanded to include 123 members from all over the world in the sixty years of our organization.
IFMSA has always focused on student mobility and exchange as well as conference and workshop organization. The first conferences were the Student International Clinical Conferences, which were quite successful in the 1950s. Various summer schools have been organized through the years, starting in 1963 in Denmark, the UK and Scandinavia. Other conferences have discussed medical education, drugs and AIDS and HIV issues. In the 1960s projects were organized to help less advantaged students in developing countries the Book Aid project, which sought to send medical books from wealthier nations and the Equipment Appeal, which promoted the shipping of surplus medical equipment to these countries.
The 1970s medical students saw a need for the decentralization of IFMSA. To this aim, IFMSA contributed to the creation of regional medical student organizations in Africa and Asia. Subsequently, regional vice-presidents were elected for six regions as a way of promoting regionalization but this structure was abandoned after a few years.
In the early 1980s IFMSA issued a number of resolutions and declarations on topics ranging from Medical Education to the Prevention of Nuclear War to Primary Health Care. In the late 80's there was a push towards organizing projects that would be able to make a change locally and thus the Village Concept Project idea was born after collaboration with other international student organizations. 1986 also saw the start of the Leadership Training Programs in collaboration with World Health Organization. These training programs are still active today.
Official relations with WHO started back in 1969, when the collaboration resulted in the organization of a symposium on "Programmed Learning in Medical Education", as well as immunology and tropical medicine programs. In the following years, IFMSA and WHO collaborated in the organization of a number of workshops and training programs. IFMSA has been collaborating with UNESCO since 1971. Since 2007 IFMSA has been an official supporting organization of HIFA2015 (Healthcare Information For All by 2015).
The main activities of IFMSA are student exchanges and different projects. Around 10 000 medical students each year participate in international medical student exchanges, both professional and academic (research). IFMSA organizes projects, programs, seminars and workshops on areas of public health, medical education, reproductive health and human rights and peace.
All activities of the IFMSA are linked to one of its six standing committees, which are:
- Standing Committee on Medical Education (SCOME)
- Standing Committee on Professional Exchange (SCOPE)
- Standing Committee on Research Exchange (SCORE)
- Standing Committee on Public Health (SCOPH)
- Standing Committee on Sexual & Reproductive Health including HIV/AIDS (SCORA)
- Standing Committee on Human Rights and Peace (SCORP)
To be a forum for medical students throughout the world to discuss topics related to health, education and medicine; to formulate policies from such discussions and to carry out appropriate activities; To promote humanitarian ideals and medical ethics amongst medical students; To act as a mechanism for medical students' professional and scientific exchange and projects; To be a body through which cooperation and contacts with other international organizations are established; To act as a mechanism for member organizations to raise funds for projects recognized by the IFMSA.
The goal of the Federation is to serve society and medical students all over the world through its member organisations by:
- Empowering medical students in using their knowledge and capacities for the benefit of society.
- 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.
- Promoting and facilitating professional and scientific exchanges as well as projects and extracurricular trainings for medical students, thereby sensitising them to other cultures and societies and their health problems.
- Providing a link between members, medical students' associations and international organisations, and to encourage co-operation between them for the ultimate benefit of society.
To be able to work together, IFMSA has created an organizational structure, which facilitates the flow of ideas and enables the development of activities.
IFMSA is composed of medical students' associations from 116 different countries, which are the members of IFMSA and are called National Member Organizations (NMO's). All the activities of IFMSA are organized by the NMO's. Each NMO has its own identity. Most NMO's have Local Committees at the medical schools in their country. The Local Committees coordinate and organize IFMSA activities. Through these Local Committees the NMO's are in direct contact with the medical students.
IFMSA is a federation, which respects the autonomy of its members, the NMO's. The NMO's can decide which activities they take part in and what new activities should be developed.
The International Framework of IFMSA
The decision making process is in the hands of the General Assembly, the executive process is in the hands of the International Board and the controlling power is in the hands of the Supervising Council.
The General Assembly (GA) is composed of representatives of all NMO's, and meets twice a year in March and August. The General Assembly decides the activities of IFMSA, the regulations, and the management and elects the Team of Officials and the Supervising Council.
The General Assembly elects the Team of Officials (TO) each year. It is composed of the Executive Board (EB), Directors, Liaison Officers and Regional Coordinators. The Executive Board is responsible for the daily management of the Federation and deals with issues such as fundraising, marketing, external relations, finances, administration, development and support to National Member Organisations.
There are two types of Directors, Standing Committee Directors and Support Division Directors. Standing Committee Directors are assigned to one field of activities. They coordinate the Standing Committee, which carries out these activities. They give support to national and local officers, prepare the meetings of the Standing Committee and are responsible for development of new activities. Support Division Directors are responsible for general activities, which are important for all other activities. IFMSA has support divisions for projects, publications, training, new technologies (web-related services) and for alumni relations.
Are also elected the Liaison Officers, they maintain the contacts with important external relations and represent IFMSA towards those organizations. The Regional Coordinators are responsible of each of the IFMSA 5 Regions.
The Supervising Council is elected by the General Assembly to evaluate and supervise the work of the IFMSA officials and undertakes actions in case problems arise.
- 2005–2006 – Jana Kammeyer, Slovakia – Europe
- 2006–2007 – Ahmed Ali, Sudan – Africa
- 2007–2008 – Anas Eid, Palestine – EMR
- 2008–2009 – Melhim Bou Alwan, Lebanon – EMR
- 2009–2010 – Silva Rukavina, Croatia – Europe
- 2010–2011 – Chijioke Kaduru, Ghana – Africa
- 2011–2012 – Christopher Pleyer, Austria – Europe
- 2012–2013 – Roopa Dhatt, USA – Americas
- 2013-2014 - Josko Mise, Croatia - Europe
- 2014-2015 - Agostinho Sousa, Portugal - Europe
Twice a year, the delegations of the NMO's of IFMSA get together at the IFMSA General Assemblies. The March Meeting and the August Meeting bring together several hundred (600–900) medical students from all around the world. During the seven days of the meetings, the delegates discuss matters of the Federation and make valuable contacts for their organizations.
The General Assembly remains the highest decision making body of the Federation although the actual program of the meeting has developed into a mixture of training, planning and evaluation sessions in between the legislative Plenary Sessions. The work in the Standing Committees of IFMSA is the essence for most delegates: signing contracts, presenting and planning projects are all in a day's work for the National Officers from the participating organizations. An extensive Training and Resource Development component has been integrated in the program, providing the participants with new skills needed in their work, but seldom found in the regular University curriculum: Lobbying Skills, Group Dynamics and Strategic Planning to name a few.
With IFMSA being much more than just exchanges, the Project Fair has evolved to extend presentations of local, national and international projects outside the Standing Committees. Round Table Discussions enable the student delegates to discuss currently relevant topics with invited experts and short lectures are frequently given by representatives from, for example, different UN agencies.
A special Financial Committee is elected at each General Assembly to audit the budget and finances of the Federation. Other legislative proceedings at the meetings include adoption of reports from the Executive Board members, IFMSA Officials and IFMSA projects, and adoption of official IFMSA Policy Statements. Guidelines on which areas IFMSA should focus on and other important decisions for the future of the Federation are prepared by the Presidents of the National Member Organizations together with the Executive Board and brought for approval to the Plenary Sessions.
Hosting a General Assembly is an honor, but also a great trial for the Organizing Committee. The entire process is run by voluntary students, from the fundraising to the implementation, and shows that the power of IFMSA indeed lies at the local level. As with any international meeting, the social program is important in providing relaxation between the long hours of work, and giving the hosts an opportunity to show their culture and creativity to their foreign friends.
Regional and sub-regional meetings
In addition to the General Assemblies, the National Member Organizations are also getting together for Regional Meetings. These meetings follow a similar agenda as General Assemblies, and are organized yearly for each region. They allow more students of the Region to gather, because the meeting is always in the Region, and the agenda is focused on regionally relevant topics.
IFMSA collaborates with regional student organizations.
The IFMSA won on October 3rd 2014 the Health Systems Award - Civil Organization. This award recognizes the organization that best employs social media to engage civil society in health systems-related dialogue. It recognizes the work the Federation has been doing all around the world to connect and engage with health communities around the world so to shape the sustainable and healthy future we want.
- "IFMSA.net – IFMSA National Member Organisations List". Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- "IFMSA.org". Retrieved 2007-05-18.