How to make primary healthcare a favourable career choice for medical students: Strategies and reflections

Heart Beat

(Arvin Chingcuangco, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Alaa Abusufian E. Dafallah, a 6th year medical student from University of Khartoum, Sudan. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. 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.

Primary healthcare is the foundation of all health systems as it is the first contact and ongoing link between people and their health providers. Yet 400 million people around the world do not have access to basic health services. After the new global commitment to primary healthcare (PHC) in Astana a few months back, PHC has never been more important.

A few months back, I went on a medical mission to Kordofan, a state 12 hrs from from the capital city of Sudan. As we visited village after village, I observed the status of PHC centres. Understaffed, under resourced, and bluntly said, empty. One centre was a room, slightly larger than a classroom, with only a desk and a couch  where even a size 16 cannula could not be found.

It became quite apparent to me that aside from the low resources, the notable shortage of primary health care workers is greatly affecting the provision of quality basic health care services. I silently asked myself, who would work here ? How can we make Primary Healthcare an attractive career choice for medical students who constitute the bulk of the future health workforce ?

As a strong believer that education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the wrld, one of the fundamental solutions is reforming of undergraduate medical education on 3 main aspects – Firstly, decentralisation of medical education such that states within a country have schools that graduate doctors who will work in the same communities they came from. In addition, medical schools must ensure their selection policies are inclusive of students from rural/underserved areas by providing financial aid whenever needed.

The second aspect is to increase the longitudinal exposure and training of students in PHC settings. It it has been documented that undergraduate training largely influences career choices of medical students however, in most schools, 90% of clinical training is in tertiary health institutions and in the 4 main disciplines of medicine. What if PHC or family medicine would be the 5th ? The final aspect is to promote social accountability amongst medical students by creating opportunities whether core or elective within the curriculum that allow for students to engage with and feel accountable to their communities.

Another approach would be to address postgraduate training. Most students feel there is no room for career growth within PHC especially in rural areas, hence it is essential to create a strong and compelling continuous professional development and training programme for physicians working in PHC settings.

Finally, addressing working conditions is integral. It is paramount to bridge the payment gap between specialists and PHC physicians by increasing the funding for PHC in general. This, coupled by appropriate working hours, well resourced centres and adjunct benefits like insurance and housing will help reduce the perceived imbalance between specialists and PHC physicians.

In conclusion, the shortage of primary health care workers is an complex issue, which will require a combination of strategies to solve. It is important to involve youth in the continuous assessment of the situation and the implementation of innovative ideas to address this challenge.

Health is for all, by all.

About the author

Ms.Alaa Abusufian E. Dafallah is a 6th year medical student from University of Khartoum, Sudan with 5 years of experience in the field of student advocacy and medical education development in Sudan and Africa. She is currently the Regional co-ordinator of Medical education for Africa at the International Federation for Medical Students Association (IFMSA). Alaa recently founded MHSL (Model Health system Leaders ) a novel initiative that aims to promote youth understanding & reforming of health systems. She aspires to pursue a career in Health systems and health workforce planning.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Celebrate love, strengthen partnerships to end AIDS epidemic by 2030 says UN agency

Sweden’s forests have doubled in size over the last 100 years

Chile ups foreign bribery enforcement but flawed case resolutions are insufficient to ensure transparency and accountability

More people now plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine than in December

This Latin American country is keeping COVID-19 firmly under control. How?

Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Sudan, Libya, Yemen updates, solutions for e-waste, flood response in Iran, online security for children

Main results of EU-Japan summit: Tokyo, 17/07/2018

3 reasons why responsibly-deployed technology is key to the COVID recovery

LGBTQ+ inclusion on the other side of the screen

Can we prevent a surge in pandemic-related homelessness?

EU reconfirms support for Afghanistan at 2020 Geneva Conference

Timor-Leste Foreign Minister highlights value of UN in resolving conflicts

Fostering defence innovation through the European Defence Fund

China is a renewable energy champion. But it’s time for a new approach

Financial inclusion in India is soaring. Here’s what must happen next

Horn of Africa: UN chief welcomes Djibouti agreement between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia

A clean energy future with hydrogen could be closer than we think

Draghi cuts the Gordian knot of the Banking Union

This Canadian start-up turns millions of chopsticks into sustainable furniture

COVID-19 is challenging the way we think of chemical industry trends. This is how

Across the world, women outlive men. This is why

These 3 countries are global offshore wind powerhouses

Brexit talks: 2nd round fails to bring the EU and the UK closer on key issues

The EU invites the US and Russia to partition Ukraine

What happens when the Eurogroup decides to help Greece

EU announces record €550 million contribution to save 16 million lives from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria

European Banking Union: no one is perfect

European Defence Fund on track with €525 million for Eurodrone and other joint research and industrial projects

Africa’s future is innovation rather than industrialization

Violence will not deter Somali people in their pursuit of peace, says UN chief, in wake of lethal attacks

EU Budget 2019 to focus on young people

Armed groups kill Ebola health workers in eastern DR Congo

Economic policy priorities for a post-pandemic recovery

What brands get wrong about China – and how to put it right

China, forever new adventures

New rules to help consumers join forces to seek compensation

4 ways to build businesses that work for good, right now

‘Catastrophic’ healthcare costs put mothers and newborns at risk

Mobile 360 Series – Russia & CIS: Empowering the Digital Economy

These tech start-ups are changing what it means to farm

Insecurity and violence turn Nigeria into a ‘pressure cooker’ that must be addressed, says UN rights expert

UN relief official in Yemen condemns ‘horrific’ attack on passenger buses

How Cameron unwillingly helped Eurozone reunite; the long-term repercussions of two European Council decisions

European Commission authorises third safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19

European Youth Forum on Summit on Jobs and Growth

Escalation in Syria fighting cause for ‘great concern’ says UN chief, dozens more civilians dead or injured

Taxes on polluting fuels are too low to encourage a shift to low-carbon alternatives

AI-assisted recruitment is biased. Here’s how to make it more fair

Measles claims more than twice as many lives than Ebola in DR Congo

Technology can hinder good mental health at work. Here’s how it can help

Facebook: MEPs demand a full audit by EU bodies to assess data protection

More women than ever are working in Hollywood, but men still dominate key roles

Japanese law professor elected new judge at the International Court of Justice

G7: A serious setback hardly avoided in iconic Biarritz

German elections: Is Merkel losing ground or Shultz is winning?

EU-UK relations: MEPs approve rules to ensure Eurotunnel safety and cooperation

Facebook/Cambridge Analytica: MEPs pursue personal data breaches probe

Commission extends transparency and authorisation mechanism for exports of COVID-19 vaccines

Hostages to a rampant banking system

CHALLENGING THE ZEITGEIST OF DIGITAL – Change making projects innovate mobile support for refugees, inclusive environments, early breast cancer detection and more

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s