International Federation of Medical Students' Associations

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International Federation of Medical Students' Associations
TypeInternational Organization
  • Denmark
136 National Member Organizations
Official language
Evangelia Roubou

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 139 member organizations from 130 countries around.[1]


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.

Starting from the exclusively European founding organizations the Federation has expanded to include 136 members from all over the world.

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 1980s 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 14,000 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 and Rights including HIV & AIDS (SCORA)
  • Standing Committee on Human Rights and Peace (SCORP)


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 126 different countries, which are formed 136 members of IFMSA and are called National Member Organizations (NMOs). All the activities of IFMSA are organized by the NMOs. Each NMO has its own identity. Most NMOs have Local Committees at the medical schools in their country. The Local Committees coordinate and organize IFMSA activities. Through these Local Committees, the NMOs are in direct contact with the medical students.

IFMSA is a federation, which respects the autonomy of its members, the NMOs. The NMOs can decide which activities they take part in and what new activities should be developed.

IFMSA functions as an umbrella organization with 140 national and local organizations in 129 countries.[2]

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), Standing Committee Directors, Liaison Officers, and Regional Directors. 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 Organizations.

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 the development of new activities.

Liaison Officers maintain contact with important external relations and represent IFMSA towards those organizations. The Regional Directors are responsible for 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.


  • 1995–1996 – Ahmed Fayed, Egypt – EMR
  • 2001-2002 – Joel Kammeyer, United States – EMR
  • 2002-2003 - Kristina Oegaard Norway - Europe
  • 2003-2004 - Emily Spry, United Kingdom - Europe
  • 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, United States – Americas
  • 2013–2014 – Josko Mise, Croatia – Europe
  • 2014–2015 – Agostinho Sousa, Portugal – Europe
  • 2015–2016 – Karim M. Abuzeid, Egypt – EMR
  • 2016–2017 – Cherkaoui Omar, Morocco – EMR
  • 2017–2018 – Carlos Acosta, Brazil – Americas
  • 2018–2019 – Batool Al-Wahdani, Jordan – EMR
  • 2019–2020 – Nebojša Nikolić, Serbia – Europe
  • 2020–2021 – Po-Chin Li Taiwan – Asia
  • 2021–2022 – Mohamed El Amine Youcef Ali Algeria – EMR
  • 2022–2023 – Mariona Borrell Arrasa – Catalonia, Spain – Europe
  • 2023-2024 - Evangelia Roubou - Greece – Europe (ad interim)


General Assemblies[edit]

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 the adoption of reports from the executive board members, IFMSA Officials and IFMSA projects, and the 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 and the executive board and brought for approval to the Plenary Sessions.

Hosting a General Assembly is an honor and a great trial for the Organizing Committee. The entire process is run by student volunteers, from fundraising to 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[edit]

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.


The IFMSA won on 3 October 2014 the Health Systems Award - Civil Organization.[3] 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 to connect and engage with health communities around the world.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ " - Who we are?". Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  2. ^ "Members".
  3. ^ "- HSG Social Media Awards". Retrieved 16 December 2021.

External links[edit]