Why do medical curricula shouldn’t neglect the Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals Medicine 2018

(Copyright United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs – UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, 2015)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Bianca Quintella, a 4th year Brazilian medical student. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Whose are the sustainable development goals?

They are said to belong to governments, businesses and the society. However, how much does the society really know about them?

Medical students, for example, are a part of the society which should be directly fighting to achieve 3 of said goals: good health and well being, gender equality and reduced inequalities. Medical curricula all over the world should guarantee that students are trained to work on them.

Nevertheless, commonly, doctors themselves smoke, drink, have no mental health, don’t exercise, eat poorly, sleep terribly and have no time to raise families due to their insane working shifts. In other words, good health and well being to who?

Many doctors, daily, practice misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia and the most despicable judgments, in their words and actions towards the patients they claim to care about, or even students they terrorize during the whole academic life. Where are we reducing inequalities?

Why do medical curricula neglect common goals for the whole world? It is unacceptable that students become doctors who are’t capable of understanding the details of taking care of a patient with special needs, for example.

If we want to achieve good health and well being, we need to empower medical students in advocating for their own health first; how can doctors take care of anyone if their own lives are falling apart?

If we want to reduce inequalities, medical students must master that subject, for a doctor who will mistreat a patient for being transgender, for example, shouldn’t be allowed to be a doctor at all. Medical students – not to say, every human being in the world – must be taught to respect and treat with equity all people.

Three of the 17 sustainable development goals are directly related to medicine; that means medical students should receive state of the art orientations on them. What we see, so far, is exactly the opposite.

Whose are the sustainable development goals?

About the author

Bianca Quintella is a 4th year Brazilian medical student who advocates daily for better, more homogeneous and humanized curricula all over the world.

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