7 Activities by Medical Students Worldwide that Made a Difference !

Many communities around the world face critical health concerns and social issues. Medical students are stepping up to address these challenges, designing and implementing initiatives to promote awareness, education, and support. This blog highlights inspiring student-led projects from around the globe that are making a real difference.

Liberation : Breaking Barriers - Humanitarian Campaign by Medical Students

RCA Winner Activity: Liberation – Breaking Barriers

NMO: PMSA-Palestine/ Collaboration with ( LeMSIC-Lebanon, IFMSA-Egypt, IFMSA-Jo,  IFMSA-Iraq, IFMSA-Algeria, LMSA-Libya, IFMSA-Kurdistan, and IMSA-Iran)

Program: Emergency, Disaster Risk & Humanitarian Action

When the Israeli bombing of Gaza started on October 7th us as an NMO and as medical students felt helpless. We knew we had to do more, and use our platform to share the atrocities that were and are still on-going, and this is how our campaign “Liberation: Breaking Barriers” started. We know that millions feel the same way, because as soon as we contacted our region’s NMOs’ presidents we felt their enthusiasm to join us in our quest.

The campaign started on the 14th of October, where 10 NMOs collaborated to bring reliable information in the format of videos, educational posts, and webinars. During these three months we succeeded in reaching more than thirty thousand persons, and published 33 posts on our social media platforms. This would not have been possible without the great team of volunteers that gathered information, created designs, filmed and edited videos, and hosted webinars.

Our campaign was divided into two parts:

Phase 1: Introduction to the Crisis: We initiated the campaign with content focused on introducing the Gaza situation, emphasizing human rights through diverse formats such as Reels, stories, and webinars. We created posts about frequently asked questions, the humanitarian crisis, and the impact on education and the healthcare system.

Phase 2: Medical Rights Emphasis: We transitioned to the second phase, intensifying the focus on medical rights violations through heightened social media engagement. Witness increased participation, with NMOs actively contributing to the cause.

We have also hosted webinars with a participation of more than 100 students. These included topics such as: Overview of the Gaza situation, humanitarian impact and impact on children and education, and lastly legal and human rights aspects. Our next step is to increase the number of our volunteers, and create more content to reach medical students around the globe. We will also work on collaborating with community-led initiatives and help in gathering donations and distributing them in Gaza.

Finally, we want to dedicate this campaign to our martyrs, PMSA-Palestine members who were killed by the arbitrary Israeli bombing on Gaza. This campaign is an effort to acknowledge the lives that were cut short, and the dreams that have been left unrealized.

"One of the best feelings was when our first video reached 121 thousand views. We understood the power that we have, and continued producing more content highlighting the disastrous humanitarian crisis in Gaza. It has been great seeing the support of the 10 NMOs who collaborated with us on this campaign, but also other NMOs that wanted to learn more including IFMSA-Poland, who started an educational campaign on their own platforms. We have reached more than 30 thousand unique accounts since the start of the campaign, and we plan to continue since the war is still ongoing. "

Communities Empowered: For Life! Slovenia's Free CPR Workshops

RCA Runner Up Activity: For Life! Slovenia 

NMO: SloMSIC Slovenia

Program: Teaching Medical Skills                                                               

For Life! Slovenia is a project under Slovenian Medical Students’ International Committee (SloMSIC), created in 2007 by the Maribor Medical Students Association at one of the two existing medical faculties in Slovenia. Offering free first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) workshops, For Life! experienced such success that the project was soon adopted by medical students in Ljubljana. Today, For Life! Slovenia organises over 100 first aid and CPR workshops yearly and is the main partner and organiser of Slovenia resuscitates!, a CPR promotion campaign for World Restart a Heart (WRAH) day.

Our goal is to equip communities with the readiness to respond to cardiac arrest, and we strive to achieve this by both promoting and teaching CPR. Our biggest promotion event is Slovenia resuscitates! where we partner with Slovenian Resuscitation Council, Slovenian Red Cross, and Slovenian Paramedic Association to organise over 100 CPR promotions all over the country. In 2023, we were featured in 192 news articles, reaching over 200,000 people, and the radio broadcast “Seconds save,” a CPR-focused programme airing every October and reporting the events organised by Slovenia resuscitates!, was listened to by over 450,000 people.

We are partnering with Slovenian Scouts and Slovenian Catholic Scouts, with students from faculties of health sciences and high-school students from secondary schools of nursing, voluntary first aid responders, and emergency medical dispatchers, everything in order to promote CPR as much as possible and reach as many different people and communities as we are able all over Slovenia. Slovenia resuscitates! is, by our knowledge, the biggest WRAH campaign per capita in Europe with over 100 promotional activities in a month and a population of 2,000,000, and we plan to double this number in the upcoming years. On the other hand, we organise over 100 free CPR and first aid workshops for laypeople in our local communities throughout the year.

We strive to offer free and high quality teaching that will impact local communities in a way that promoting CPR simply cannot. Although other people would be surprised to learn just how small is the number of medical students organising, participating, and teaching in For Life! Slovenia, we, medical students, know that a couple students are enough to change local communities, a couple dozen is enough to impact the whole nation, and a couple hundred is enough to change the world. Therefore, the 80 students in For Life! Slovenia will continue being driven, ambitious, and unwavering in our mission to make Slovenia a nation of life-savers.

As mentioned above, in 2023, we were featured in 192 news articles that reached over 200,000 people and the radio broadcast “Seconds save” which is a CPR-focused programme by above mentioned Val 202 broadcasted in October every year that announces all of the activities happening under Slovenia resuscitates! reached over 450,000 people. While these numbers speak for themselves, we do not think of this when we plan our activities, spending countless hours in our student club rooms. We think of personal stories that people at our workshops tell us of how they managed to save someone because we taught them how, we think of an old couple that came to the venue where CPR promotion was happening for the third day in a row because they were not sure which date they told on the radio, and we think of the children that we teach now that will grow up into members of our communities ready to save our lives.

Mothers in the Spotlight: Celebrating Pregnancy & Choice

RCA 2nd Runner Up Activity: Lights, Camera, Mom!


Program: Maternal Health & Access to Safe Abortion         

During pregnancy, the self-esteem of many women is affected, as it is a period of great psychological transformation and therefore has great potential to cause a woman’s self-esteem to fluctuate. In 1991, Annie Leibovitz’s photograph of Demi Moore naked and pregnant appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine, which contributed to the re-evaluation of an existing taboo surrounding the representation of the pregnant body (Ahmed, S.; Stacey, J., 2001), maternity shoots have been gaining popularity ever since, encouraging women to feel more confident about embracing their changing bodies and the delicate side of being pregnant. 21 years later, Annie Leibovitz points her lens again, this time to photograph the shoot of Rihanna, then in her 3rd trimester of pregnancy, who in an interview for Vogue magazine says “my body is doing amazing things right now, and I’m not going to be ashamed of it, why should I be hiding my pregnancy?” (Vogue, 2022). Photography, when used in women’s favor, has the power to change their perception of themselves and their appearance, directly influencing their self-esteem.

From this emerged the activity “Light, camera, mother”, which was carried out in a free photo shoot with pregnant women in the area of a Basic Family Health Unit. This project created a welcoming environment for pregnant women in order to comfort and empower them in the face of the changes they have undergone since the beginning of pregnancy. It also sought to promote health by spreading information and knowledge about contraceptive methods and the importance of pregnant women’s rights.

In Brazil, in 2006, data from the National Survey of Demography and Women’s and Children’s Health indicated that only 54% of women had planned a pregnancy and, in 18% of cases, it was unwanted (Ministry of Health, 2009). Unplanned pregnancies are associated with a number of negative factors, such as low adherence to prenatal care, smoking or alcoholism during pregnancy or a new pregnancy in a short period of time. With this in mind, prior to the photo shoot of the pregnant women, a round table discussion was held with the women involved in the project, along with their families, about contraception in the puerperium. Pamphlets on the subject were handed out, containing information about which contraceptive methods can be used in the puerperium, as well as their indications and some curiosities about their use, in order to illustrate and transmit the information in a more didactic way. At the end of the event, 100% of the participants said they were aware of the existing methods.

The round table discussion also covered obstetric violence and the rights of pregnant women; initially 45% of the women said they had no knowledge of the rights of pregnant women and the majority said they knew little about obstetric violence. At the end of the event 81% of the women said they had a better understanding of obstetric violence and the rights of pregnant women.

Regarding the approach to obstetric violence and pregnant women's rights, we achieved the success indicator: Provide information on pregnant women's rights so that after the activity at least 80% understand and consider themselves able to recognize obstetric violence. While in the initial form 45% of the women said they had no knowledge of pregnant women's rights and the majority said they knew little about obstetric violence, at the end of the event 81% of the women had a better understanding of obstetric violence and pregnant women's rights. It is important to promote discussions about the rights of pregnant women because it is only by knowing what their rights are that women will be able to demand that they are fulfilled.

Breaking Stigmas in Banda Aceh: Communities Unite to Combat HIV/AIDS

RCA Nomination Activity: LOBSTER (Let’s Care About HIV AIDS Together)

NMO: CIMSA-Indonesia

Program: HIV/AIDS & Other STIs                                                            

Indonesia is the fifth country most at risk to get infected by HIV/AIDS in Asia and the number of cases continues to increase. In Indonesia’s westernmost city, Banda Aceh, there were 159 recorded cases of HIV/AIDS in 2023. Unfortunately, there are still many people who are afraid to take an HIV/AIDS test because of the bad societal stigma. Therefore, to eliminate the bad stigma of society, the Standing Committee on Sexual & Reproductive Health and Rights including HIV AIDS (SCORA) CIMSA FK USK celebrated World AIDS Day 2023 by conducting a ground campaign and VCT (Voluntary Counseling and Testing) test on Car Free Day. The purpose of this activity is to increase the knowledge regarding HIV/AIDS, eliminate negative stigma and discrimination against PLWHA (People living with HIV/AIDS), and invite the public to participate in the VCT test.

This activity, called LOBSTER: Let’s Care About HIV AIDS Together, began by carrying out pre-activity training for the organizing committee. The training session provided knowledge about the general definition of HIV/AIDS, clinical symptoms caused by HIV/AIDS, how HIV/AIDS is transmitted and prevented, and HIV/AIDS testing training. This pre-activity training was provided by Awfi Athiya Salsabila Addini as PETRA and Dr. Eka Sartika M.Si as an educator related to HIV/AIDS knowledge and HIV Testing (VCT HIV/AIDS)

After the Pre Activity Training, LOBSTER continued the next day at Car Free Day in Banda Aceh City. The main activity carried out were the Ground Campaign on HIV / AIDS and Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) HIV / AIDS for free in collaboration with Kementrian Kesehatan Banda Aceh and RSP USK. Ground Campaign activities are carried out by inviting the surrounding community at the Car Free Day location of Banda Aceh City to discuss general knowledge of HIV / AIDS, not only by discussing, some of the community were also interviewed about general knowledge of HIV / AIDS. Meanwhile, HIV/AIDS Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) activities were carried out at the CIMSA FK USK booth. This activity is intended for people who are willing to do HIV/AIDS testing.

Happily, this activity was well received by the society. This can be seen from the number of people who were educated through the ground campaign and took the VCT test, 78 people. Based on the post assessment data, there was an increase in the posttest and pretest of 15.8%.

This activity succeeded in including more than 45 people in Banda Aceh to carry out the VCT test and received a positive response from Dinas Kesehatan Kota Banda Aceh and remove the negative stigma of society regarding HIV / AIDS.

Malta Unites Against Diabetes: "Don't Sugar Coat It" Changes Lives

RCA Nomination Activity: Diabetes Awareness – Don’t Sugar Coat It


Program: Healthy Lifestyles & Non-Communicable Diseases                                                                

It has been estimated that around 10% of the Maltese adult population suffers from diabetes, and yet many remain unaware of their diabetic status. Deaths attributed to diabetes were also the third highest in Europe. Further to this, Malta was named the most obese nation in Europe in 2022. Our initiative ‘Diabetes Awareness: Don’t Sugar Coat It’ involves a comprehensive approach to tackle diabetes, focusing on educating individuals about the signs and symptoms of the disease. disease. Moreover, the initiative seeks to encourage regular testing to identify cases early on, facilitating timely intervention and management.

Our target groups include the general population of Malta and medical students.
Youth acquire early knowledge about diabetes, fostering a culture of preventive health practices, which the elderly, benefiting from increased awareness, can better manage diabetes and related complications. Medical students play a pivotal role in disseminating information, conducting awareness campaigns, and engaging in healthcare practices related to diabetes.

The activity started with a preparatory Diabetes Awareness Workshop for 100 medical students, to educate them on diabetes, how to approach people/ answer their questions, and how to perform free health screenings, and how to interpret and explain these results. On Sunday 12th November, we carried out our largest health check of the year in our capital city of Valletta, whereby we carried out health checks consisting of blood glucose, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI and waist circumference. We also had an informational stand section, a fitness section whereby people would be able to win free gym memberships, a mental health section, a gestational awareness section, and a children’s section. We also distributed numerous leaflets to the general public on healthy lifestyles, including sugar-free alternative foods for diabetic patients, and healthy recipes. We also carried out a VoxPop whereby we tested the public’s knowledge of diabetes, such as signs, symptoms, and risk factors. During November, we managed to carry out numerous health checks at a local council, organisations, the University of Malta, as well as a Senior School, whereby we also taught health science students the importance of regular testing and how to carry out different testing techniques. In total, we reached around 1500 people, specifically those at risk of or currently living with diabetes. With our social media campaign, we also reached a total of 1000 people.

Our partners include the Health Protection and Disease Prevention Directorate (HPDP) who kindly provided us with leaflets to distribute to the public, Scram Gym for gym vouchers, Vivian Corporation for free blood glucose machines for the public, Ok Medical which provided us with resources for health checks, such as blood glucose machines and strips, single-use lancets, and cotton wool. Lastly, we obtained the necessary equipment such as tables, chairs, and gazebos from Aġenzija Żgħażagħ.

In conclusion, the initiative raises awareness about the signs, symptoms, and preventive measures for diabetes. By doing so, it addresses a critical gap in public health knowledge and encourages individuals to adopt healthier lifestyles, contributing to overall well-being and a more informed society.

A significant achievement of our activity was our main health check carried out on Sunday 12th November, in our capital city Valletta. The set-up consisted of 4 gazebos, whereby we tested blood glucose, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI and waist circumference. We had 48 students who were checking patients, and 13 outreachers who were encouraging people to come to our stations. I am very proud that it was the very first time my NMO carried out blood cholesterol testing, and it opened my eyes to the need in our community, as numerous patients were testing their blood cholesterol for the first time, and very interested in their readings. We also carried out a VoxPop to test the public's knowledge on signs and symptoms of diabetes. At the event's conclusion, we successfully conducted blood glucose tests for approximately 1000 individuals. Patients actively engaged in conversations regarding lifestyle recommendations, demonstrating a keen interest in enhancing their well-being.

Hope & Healing: Reaching Vulnerable Kurdish Children

RCA Nomination Activity: Beyond the White Coat

NMO: IFMSA-Kurdistan

Program: Mental Health                                                                                                

Several studies conducted throughout Iraq have shown mental illnesses are present among nearly 20% of children. Many hardships face individuals throughout their life, specifically refugees, children with chronic illnesses, and orphans and the lack of psychosocial support in their environment tends to exacerbate the challenges. This is because throughout the previous years, this topic has been relatively neglected. For this reason, psychosocial support sessions were prepared in collaboration between IFMSA-Kurdistan and Sounds of Change in order to deliver certain special session regarding techniques of providing psychosocial support to such certain neglected groups in society. This was done using certain techniques that has not been used before in our society, and that includes through musical skills, exercises and other ways that would be easy on a child in order to provide a creative outlet for them especially during the difficult times.

One day through the activity, we visited the orphanage and conducted a psychosocial training session for the children whom have undergone trauma, There were different responses between the children as expected, however having positive results in the end, seeing obvious changes in their attitudes and hearing good feedbacks from their supervisors at the orphanage proved how much it was needed for them, although it was only one day, the children still managed to take the best out of it in their own way, and that is the most precious thing we can do for them.

From Inspiration to Action: A Symposium for Women in Science

RCA Nomination Activity: Empowerment of Women & Girls in science


Program: Gender Based Violence                                                                    

This free event, with hybrid mode for students, highlights the historical contribution of women in science.

The goal is to inspire them to explore research as an academic and career path by providing them with the necessary tools. There will be 8 lectures and a museum-like visual exhibit highlighting pioneering women in science.

The symposium will include a science competition. A free pre-workshop on medical photography will be offered to facilitate participation.

"The success of the symposium is evidenced by the consolidation of the scientific contest, an initiative aimed at introducing students to the fascinating world of research. This contest has two modes of participation: medical photography and Written Abstract. The latter is an innovative modality that seeks to stimulate participation in research by developing essential skills such as observation, writing and the ability to synthesize. To encourage participation and prepare students who have never participated in the medical photography modality, a pre-symposium workshop will be held on January 30. This workshop will provide the necessary tools to successfully participate in this modality, ensuring that all interested students are properly equipped. This comprehensive approach reflects the symposium's commitment not only to celebrating science, but also to inspiring and training the next generation of researchers."

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