Press Release

Press Release

Medical students step up to fight COVID-19

IFMSA Response to COVID19 Pandemic

Due to the accelerating levels of spread and severity of COVID-19, the World Health Organisation (WHO) characterized it as a pandemic on the 11th of March 2020. The number of cases has been accelerating with now more than 1542 000 cases in 209 countries worldwide including 90930 deaths leaving us all in an overwhelming sense of anxiety and uncertainty.

To contain the pandemic, most countries declared nationwide lockdowns restricting freedom of movement, closing all workplaces, schools, and public areas as well as asking the people to stay home. Nevertheless, health systems are working to their fullest capacities to limit the spread of the outbreak. COVID-19 continues to overwhelm our healthcare systems with materials stock depleted, hospital bed capacities filled, and health professionals exhausted. It is imminent to stress on how health professionals are put under pressure more than ever; being at the frontline diagnosing, treating and caring for patients with COVID-19 and doing their utmost to save their lives. 

As IFMSA, we bring together 1.3 million medical students from 129 countries worldwide. Hence, we believe that it is our undeniable role to take action in our own communities. We are now putting all our unanimous efforts to empower our people with the necessary knowledge, understanding, and skills to contain the COVID-19 pandemic through infection prevention and control. As medical students and trained health workers, it is our responsibility to prepare our health systems and protect the physical and mental health of our people. We are also working together to educate the public and empower them to protect themselves and others. 

Medical students worldwide are leading the fight against COVID-19. As IFMSA, we are now conducting a global multidisciplinary campaign to tackle the different health aspects linked to the COVID-19 emergency from mental health and health inequities to climate change and SRHR. Our medical students in a diversity of countries created and implemented their own national COVID-19 response plans in collaboration with their governments and WHO country offices to fight the pandemic and protect their communities. As IFMSA, we created our own online library to share all the most updated and reliable COVID information as well as the best practice by our member organizations for utmost inspiration. In addition, IFMSA is now working with UNICEF and UNFPA leading the voice of youth in their advocacy, as well as with other student and youth organizations to amplify the response to Coronavirus and deliver effective outcomes. 

It is proven now more than ever how global cooperation and multisectoral communication are imminent to facilitate a powerful response to the COVID-19 emergency. To flatten the curve, we, as IFMSA, call on all countries, WHO and other organizations to:

  1. Equip health systems with strong diagnostic capabilities and rapid-response strategies with the provision of essential funds. 
  2. Provide health workers at the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic with adequate training, clear guidance, essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to ensure their safety and preserve their mental health and well-being. 
  3. Invest in research and development of the vaccines and medical treatments needed to end this detrimental pandemic. 
  4. Increase the necessary research and share the most updated data relevant to the outbreak openly and rapidly to inform the public health response.
  5. Disseminate health emergency protocols through efficient communication channels to be followed and implemented by the general population.

Moreover, the IFMSA acknowledges the importance of health literacy in driving social change. Today a global epidemic of misinformation—spreading rapidly through social media platforms and other outlets—poses a serious problem for public health. In addition, it poses a great risk to slowing down the progression of the virus. The fight against such misinformation can be vitaly tackled by the continuous provision of the most reliable and recent information about the pandemic control and prevention.

In this moment of crisis, the IFMSA would like to stress that the crucial struggle takes place within humanity itself. Since the coronavirus outbreak, our society has witnessed bias, racism, xenophobia, and discrimination against people of certain races. We call upon all global citizens to root out discrimination and stigma, ensure the access of health care to all populations and win this battle against COVID-19 with closer global coorperation. 

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The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) was founded in 1951 as an organization of medical students, for medical students and by medical students. For more than 60 years, the Federation has not only been a dynamic platform of opportunities for the future physicians but has also served as their voice at the international level. As an international organization, IFMSA is also know by its translations. 

IFMSA is the world’s oldest and largest independent organization representing associations of medical students internationally. It currently maintains 133 National Member Organizations from more than 123 countries and areas with over one million students represented worldwide. IFMSA is recognized as a non-governmental organization within the United Nations system and the World Health Organization, and also works with the World Medical Association.

Please read more about our response : ifmsa.org/covid19