IFMSA @ The World Summit on Social Accountability

We, health care students worldwide, are joining together to address the need for action in the area of assuring the social accountability of our education, faculties, and hospitals. These words from the opening statement of the student declaration of the World Summit on Social Accountability. A socially accountable medical school takes action through its education, research, and service activities to meet the priority health needs of society. It works with governments, health service organizations, and public to positively impact people’s health and demonstrates this through relevance, quality, equitability, cost-effectiveness.

From April 8th-12th 2017, over 450 individuals and organizations came together in Hammamet, Tunisia, to discuss how well our health professions training institutions are performing, and how we can collectively create positive change. You can find a great after movie here to get a general impression of the meeting.

Social Accountability in Medical Schools is also one of IFMSAs Global External Focus Areas for this term. IFMSA has been a part of the organizing committee for this meeting for the past two years and has acted as one of the co-chairs for the student group. It was very exciting to see so many IFMSA members present at this important event, including NOMEs and local officers, and many and seeing them actively participating. 16 of them -at least- were TMET trainers. Were also very proud to have had Associa-Med take on the role of coordinating the local student task force, and were present with at least 30 of their members.

The summit addressed four key thematic areas of required action:

  1. Partnerships: Embark on partnerships and actions with other health system stakeholders to help educational institutions become more socially accountable
  2. Competencies: Facilitate the competencies that socially accountable health professionals should possess and have encouraged
  3. Accreditation: Enable evaluation and accreditation systems that measure the impact of schools on peoples health
  4. Leadership: Foster the institutional leadership, capacities, and governance structures needed for schools to become more socially accountable

Many fruitful discussions were held during the summit, and by deriving information from exciting plenary discussions, many diverse workshops and poster presentations, a Tunis declaration was created by the organizing group, together with its commitment to develop a long-term strategy, and continue to advocate for the principles mentioned in it. In parallel to the common Tunis Declaration, the IFMSA, in collaboration with the other student organizations present, worked to develop a ? that specifically targets the challenges that students globally face. The declaration was based on the various consultations held online, in the General Assembly and the summit, as well as the IFMSA Global Policy on Medical Education. We would like to thank all members that have taken the time to fill out our survey or participated in the MM17 SCOME sessions.

IFMSA had the opportunity to present the Toolkit for students to advocate for Social Accountability in their Medical Schools, which we have worked on last term in collaboration with THEnet training for health equity network. The Toolkit was presented in the Posters sessions, TUFH talks and students meeting by Jrmy Glasner (swimsa-Switzerland) and Mohsna Bhiri? (Associa-Med-Tunisia). The audience reacted very enthusiastically. We are hoping the final version will be published this May. We additionally held several meetings with IFMSAs external partners during the summit, discussing how we can move ahead of the outcomes of this meeting, as well as to discuss the improvement and finalization of the toolkit.

Some of the highlights of the summit had to be not only the many great projects organized on a local level (including many run by students) but also the excellent keynote speakers. From Jim Campbell, director of the WHO Health Workforce Department, on how we can address health workforce issues from a collaborative approach between labor, economics and the health sector, to prof. Amadei, founding president of Engineers without Borders, who taught us about putting humanity at the center of what we do, and looking at health as a whole, to prof. Howe, president of WONCA, who addressed the competencies all of our future health workforce will need in order to live social accountability.

Finally, IFMSA was extremely honored to have officially received the AFMC Charles Boelen ?International Social Accountability Award during the opening ceremony. This award aims to celebrate groups of people or organizations whose professional accomplishments are an example of the principles of social accountability implemented as defined in the Global Consensus for Social Accountability of Medical Schools and in internationally recognized references.

We would like to thank the Organizing Committee, in particular, Mr. Bob Woollard and Mr. Charles Boelen, for their efforts for making this Summit a great success, and their massive support of including students throughout the process.

Now that the summit is over, it is time for action. IFMSA is fully committed to the implementation of the principles stated in the Tunis declaration, the Students declaration, and the Global Consensus on Social Accountability. We hope that you will be excited to work with us to making this possible. Stay tuned on the mailinglists and social media (#WSOSA2017) for updates and what you can do. For any questions you might have, please feel free to reach out to the SCOME International Team or [email protected] or [email protected] at any time.

Stijntje Dijk, IFMSA Supervising Council
Arij Chatbri, IFMSA Director on Medical Education


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