TUFH 2018 | Community Empowerment for Health

The Network Towards Unity for Health (TUFH), an international organization aiming to foster equitable community-oriented health services education, research, and policy and a global leader in Social Accountability, held its annual Conference between August 16-20 in Limerick, Ireland.

Following the success and significant outcomes of the World Summit on Social Accountability last year in Tunisia, this year’s Conference focused on raising the voices of the communities and bridging the conversation between communities and health providers, in the hopes of making healthcare more socially accountable towards the people.

IFMSA was represented by the IFMSA Liaison Officer for Medical Education (LME) issues and participated in an array of sessions, ensuring that our stances and medical students worldwide were part of the discussion.

The results of the first-ever Global Social Accountability Assessment were presented in a thematic poster session (pictured on the left), where we had the opportunity to share our main conclusions and the way forward for IFMSA. This initiative utilized the assessment tool contained in the IFMSA Students’ Toolkit on Social Accountability, in an effort to test the efficacy of it, among our members.

A full report has been prepared by the members of the SWG that gave life to the assessment, which you can read here.

Moreover, IFMSA had the opportunity to give a TUFH talk, a TED-inspired presentation format, where we challenged the applicability of the recommendations put forward to make medical schools more socially accountable,  and availability of resources to turn them into reality.

IFMSA was also asked to participate in an innovative and perfectly-timed workshop, led by the Training for Health Equity Network (THEnet), our primary partner in Social Accountability. The workshop’s theme was “Time for Action: Addressing gender inequities in health workforce education” and we discussed our policy on Gender Equity and the efforts towards increasing gender representation on a global scale.  

One of the main outcomes of the Conference was the Limerick Declaration on Community Empowerment for Health, which focused on 4 key themes: empowering communities, intersectoral opportunities and challenges, engaging educational institutions, empowering under-represented sectors in society. The Declaration will be made available in the upcoming weeks.

Social Accountability is vital for Universal Health Coverage (UHC), a fact highlighted by a WHO-organized workshop titled “Global Competency Framework for Universal Health Coverage”, held in the Conference. For almost two years, the Global Health Workforce Network (GHWN) Education Hub has been tasked with developing a set of competencies for health professionals, that are necessary to achieve UHC. The Education Hub has recognized Social Accountability as a core value and TUFH2018 provided an ideal space for input and discussion on their work so far, in which IFMSA has also been heavily involved.

During TUFH2018, IFMSA had the chance to meet with several of our Social Accountability partners, as well as the most important global stakeholders, collecting input and ideas for our future (and present) plans. Social Accountability has been a Global External Focus Area (GEFA) for the last 2 years, and will soon be a Global Priority; therefore, IFMSA has a very clear mandate to continue working for it to the best of our abilities.

If you are interested in participating and engaging more with TUFH, next year’s conference will convene in Darwin, Australia between September 10-13. More details will be released soon!

For any questions regarding our participation or Social Accountability in general, make sure to send an email to the IFMSA Liaison Officer for Medical Education issues at [email protected].

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