Passion goes global

AS A medical student and self-confessed country girl, I have a passion for rural healthcare. 

My goal in life – whether achievable or a bridge too far – is to see rural Australians receiving equitable health services.

I also believe that rural health discrepancies should be discussed as a global crisis, and not just considered on a town-by-town, country-by-country basis.

In March, I was fortunate enough to be selected to represent Australia at the International Federation of Medical Students' Association General Assembly in Tunisia, Africa. 

The IFMSA was originally established in Denmark, immediately following World War 2, as a way to unite medical students in Europe.

Over 108 countries from all four corners of the globe are now members of the IFMSA, and as a Federation it represents the voices of 1.2 million medical students globally.

The Federation's goal has always been to empower medical students to tackle the big issues facing the world.

Today, it does this through substantial involvement with the UN, the World Health Organisation and the World Medical Association, among others.

This trip to Tunisia was my second time representing the Australia Medical Students' Association at an IFMSA General Assembly, having done so previously at the 2013 August General Assembly in Chile, South America.

With a small amount of experience under my belt, the list of things that I hoped to accomplish in Tunisia was huge.

Towards the top of the list was riding a camel, and I knocked that off the list mid-week (success!). 

More importantly, because of my passion for rural health I had particular interest in a Rural and Remote Healthcare policy that was being proposed to the Federation.

As a home-grown country girl, seeing rural and remote healthcare discussed on a world stage was of huge significance to me. 

Even in a lucky country like Australia, significant health disparities exist for rural Australians – and it only goes downhill from there, with rural health completely neglected in parts the developing world. 

Strategies were discussed for how we as future health professionals could guarantee the access of health services in rural areas.

We considered all challenges that the world is facing right now, including a lack of human resources and materials and a need for more rural health education to be included in medical curriculums globally.

I’m pleased to say that the policy passed and the IFMSA now supports improved access to rural and remote healthcare.

This is an important step forward for medical students worldwide to recognise rural health disparities as a global crisis and not isolated incidences of poor health.

The entire trip was a learning experience, and a lot of that learning came from outside the formal schedule of events – from just talking to delegates from every corner of the world.

Very rarely are there so many medical students from so many countries, congregated together to share stories from both their professional lives as well as their personal lives.

I met life-long friends and left with a much greater appreciation for the diversity of the world that we live in. 

But most importantly, I left with the reassurance that young people all around the world are passionate and working for change.

Skye's the limit column

Skye Kinder is the Bendigo young citizen of the year. Skye will write a regular column in the Bendigo Advertiser to keep readers up-to-date with her experiences and share her thoughts on issues she's passionate about through the year.

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