Policy Documents – how can NMOs propose policy drafts?

The following text serves as a basic guide for IFMSA National Member Organizations (NMOs) which are interested to develop and propose an IFMSA policy document for adoption by the IFMSA General Assembly. If you plan to do so, you are in the right place! Please read carefully and in case of any questions, do not hesitate to contact the Vice-President for External Affairs (vpe@ifmsa.org).

What are IFMSA Policy Documents?

IFMSA has a number of Policy Documents which represent the official stances and call to action of IFMSA. These documents are the foundation of IFMSA’s external work because they represent the official democratically adopted position of IFMSA, and without them, we would not be able to responsibly share our opinions on all global health issues. IFMSA’s Team of Officials, as well as official delegations to various events, represent and share our opinions based on these policies.

Policy documents are approved by the plenary during the IFMSA General Assembly in March and in August. They are valid for a period of three years or until their renewal. It is important to underline that the policies of the Federation are defined by its national members, according to IFMSA democratic and participative principles. Therefore, it is crucially important to involve NMOs and medical students in all stages of IFMSA policy – their creation, implementation, and evaluation.

Policy procedures:

The policy procedures are defined in IFMSA Constitution & Bylaws. Policy documents are approved by the 2 /3 majority during the IFMSA General Assembly plenary in March and in August. In addition, numerous steps precede this formal adoption. In this text, we will describe the factual process, which is similar for both General Assemblies, however, deadlines (which can be found in IFMSA Constitution & Bylaws, Annex 1) are different.

Any IFMSA policy document is divided into two parts, bound together in one concise paper:

  • Policy Statement: a short and concise document highlighting the position of IFMSA for a specific field(s). A policy statement does not include background information, discussion related to the policy, a bibliography and neither does it quote facts and figures developed by outside sources. The maximum length of a policy statement is 2 pages, including introduction, IFMSA position, and call to action.
  • Position Paper: a detailed document supporting the related policy statement that contains background information and discussion in order to provide a more complete understanding of the issues involved and the rationale behind the position(s) set forth. A position paper must cite outside sources and include a bibliography. Generally, a policy can be created by any member of the Federation, but it must be officially submitted by two NMOs from different regions or the Team of Officials, according to a procedure explained in Article 15 of IFMSA Constitution & Bylaws.

Policy commission is a body composed of one representative of the Team of Officials and two representatives of NMOs, which is appointed by a proposer in a period leading up to the submission, and its role is to ensure the quality of the document, that the content is based on global evidence, collect and incorporate NMO feedback after the call for input and to coordinate the discussion about particular policy during the General Assembly. Find a very simple guide on how to submit a policy below, the Vice-President for External Affairs will also remind NMOs about the different steps and deadlines.

So, what you really need to do?

We strongly recommend you to reach out to a relevant Liaison Officer before starting to work on your proposal. They may know about other NMOs which are already working on the topic of your idea, which can save your energy and time, and you would be able to easily join an already running drafting procedure. Furthermore, they can advise you on the content of your proposal, which may be covered by some of our existing policies.

Step 1: Create a draft policy document. This should be in line with policy specifications stated in Article 15 of IFMSA Constitution & Bylaws. The drafting process should be as transparent as possible, relevant members should be allowed to contribute to the policy to cover and include a variety of perspectives we have in our Federation e.g. SCORP members if the policy is related to human rights and/or peace. Please use the template structure for your policy draft, which you can find here in this folder. For your internal discussions, we recommend you to use the editable Google Documents or any editable online software you prefer.

Step 2: Send a call for policy commissions to the NMO server, preferably one or two weeks before the 10th of January/June deadline. You will need some time to select your policy commission members and appoint them. Your NMO members can also skip the first step and only apply for the policy commission, in this case, they will not be taking the lead on the process, but just add to the policy documents and fulfill the duties of policy commission members.

Step 3: Share the draft Policy Document and the Policy Commissions composition. Do not miss this first checkpoint – 10th of January/June deadline. Latest on these dates, you must share the draft policy document and the composition of policy commission with other NMOs through the NMO server (by emailing your drafts and composition of the policy commission to nmos@ifmsa.org). NMOs will be able to comment and input your proposal till 1st of February/ July, which is the second checkpoint!

Step 4: The submission deadline. Don’t miss the second checkpoint – 1st of February/July deadline. Latest on these dates, you must send the final version of your policy proposal to the General Secretariat account (gs@ifmsa.org). Your policy proposal must be submitted on the official IFMSA template, which is shared with NMOs by Vice-President for Activities together with many other templates for submissions. Don’t forget that your draft must be co-signed and co-stamped by two NMOs from different regions (your NMO + second NMO from a different region)! Approach the Vice-President for External Affairs or the relevant Liaison Officer to ensure your proposal fills all requirements.

Step 5: Amendments from NMOs. NMOs have time to go through your final version and propose final amendments, which you may or may not incorporate into your proposal. The received amendments and whether the proposer incorporates them or not must be shared with NMOs by 19th of February/July at the latest. Keep in mind that all the amendments made after these dates must be voted during the relevant plenary session.

For more information about policy procedures, or in case you are interested to create and propose a policy document, feel free to consult the Vice-President for External Affairs (vpe@ifmsa.org) or a relevant Liaison Officer – they are more than happy to assist you with the procedure!