Not only did Sir Michael Marmot (Director of UCL Institute of Health Equity) give an engaging speech at the “Doctors addressing violence against women and girls through social determinants of health” luncheon organised by IFMSA and WMA, where one of the most important statements was how equity has to be taken into consideration for education for women, and where education is relevant to health, he also dedicated a bulk of his valuable time at the World Health Assembly to join the IFMSA delegation at our daily briefing.
“IFMSA, I tell you the same every time I see you, you as medical students inspire us.”
We also used our time with him to discuss some crucial topics, such as asking him his view on the Post-2015 discussion, where several sharp questions were asked.
“What I would have as a goal for Post 2015? A health goal! We’re resurrecting the confusion between the definitions of health and health care. Rich countries are not interested in Universal Health Coverage if they already have it. Why have a goal some countries wouldn’t do anything about? Such a goal doesn’t bind countries.
There are healthcare workers all over the world working together, it’s heartwarming. Yes, we should be addressing Social Determinants of Health. But what if your goal was Premature Mortality as an example: it applies to every country and makes you focussed on what you need to do, including ensuring Universal Health Care, but also for example to decrease levels of smoking. Ideally, we wouldn’t even need the movement on Social Determinants of Health, it would be included from the beginning”.
He ended his visit in addressing the IFMSA members present. “Some colleagues approached me for having a meeting with them, but I told them I was going to talk to the students. The students? Yes, what can be more fun? I’m continuously amazed by both your enthusiasm as well as your organizing skills in bringing people together”.
Our utmost gratitude goes out to Sir Michael Marmot for his time, support and inspiring words during our briefing and side event. From a personal perspective, his words both in thanks to medical students worldwide as well as in his views on the SDH/MDG discussion have truly inspired me and have changed my perspective on this discussion. I look forward to following its future developments
All the best,
IFMSA Standing Committee on Medical Education Director