Since I first read her diary Anne Frank has been one of my heroes. Now, you might ask, what does Anne Frank, a symbol of fighting against prejudice and discrimination, have to do with medicine? Well, in writing this first blog on behalf of Medsin, I thought this quote from her diaries summarized nicely what Medsin is all about:
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world”
Medsin is a student network and registered charity in the UK which aims to tackle health inequalities on both a global and local scale. Our vision is simple – “A fair and just world in which equity in health is a reality for all”. We know we can’t change the world overnight, but we believe that students are a powerful voice for social and political change.
So how do we aim to achieve this? Medsin has branches in over 30 universities in the UK. Although branches are often based in Medical Schools, students from all subject backgrounds participate in education, advocacy and community action.
On a local level, Medsin has many activities where students can promote health in their communities. So often, students can be a transient force, or even perceived as a burden, but projects such as Sexpression (sexual health education workshops) and CPRiS (teaching CPR in schools) create long term links between students and the neighbourhoods in which they live. Projects such as SKIP (Students for Kids International Projects, supporting child welfare in community projects around the world) work similarly overseas, creating such connections with communities all over the world. Twice a year, national conferences, organized by a Medsin branch, allow us to meet, share ideas and hear from experts in the field of global health.
The work continues on a national level, with advocacy work on many health and development issues as well as encouraging and facilitating global health education in the medical curriculum. We run national campaigns, such as Pharmaware (concerned with the effects of big pharmaceutical companies), Healthy Planet (the effects of climate change on health) and Stop AIDS (equal access to HIV medication). Current issues, for which we have working groups include Action on the NHS and Maternal Health. This is further facilitated by the many links we have with other national organisations, such as the British Medical Association (BMA), Tropical Health & Education Trust, Medact and the Global Poverty Project.
We also collaborate with many external organisations to facilitate our international work. We are the UK representative body at the International Federation of Medical Student Associations’ (IFMSA)’s biannual meetings, and engage with events run by the United Nations and the World Health Organisation.
We can only hope to scrape the surface of what needs to be done to achieve our vision, but what great news that we can start trying now. We’re hoping to give the Speaking of Medicine blog regular updates of our activities, and very much hope that this forum can provide some ideas and feedback as to how we might better achieve our goals.
For more information on Medsin, its branches and activities, go to: http://www.medsin.org/
Karin Purshouse is a final year medical student at Newcastle University and was Chair of the British Medical Association’s Medical Students Committee (BMA MSC) 2010-11. She has been involved with Sexpression and Medsin since 2006, and was part of the Medsin-UK delegation to the International Federation of Medical Student Associations (IFMSA) August Meeting 2011.