The 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and the role of medical students

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Areeba Tahir, a third year medical student, studying at Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan. She is affiliated with 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.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, proposed by the United Nations, consists of a total of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At a glance, it seems as if only one of these SDGs is specific to healthcare providers; however, looking at it from a broader perspective all these goals are intricately linked to our healthcare system, most of these being considered as Social Determinants of Health (SDH).

Goals such as no poverty, zero hunger, and improved infrastructure and industrial innovations aim for sustainable economic growth. There are several decisive steps we can take to realise these goals.

As future healthcare providers we enjoy a very prestigious status in society where our opinions are held in high regard. This gives us a responsibility to talk about the importance of proper nutrition and charity for the less fortunate.

Here in Pakistan in recent years various NGOs have been working tirelessly towards eradicating poverty, for example the Khudkaar initiative in Layyah, and hunger such as in case of the Robinhood Army. We can provide help, monetary or by volunteering, to these NGOs.

We can push for making healthcare more accessible, demand for improved infrastructure for better access to and better equipment for hospitals in the periphery to ensure early diagnosis and treatment of preventable diseases.

Several goals pushing for environmental protection are also in place such as provision of clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy and responsible consumption and production.

Our Environmental, physical and mental well being go hand in hand. It is extremely important, now more than ever, given the state of global warming, pollution and over all climate etc to advocate for switching to more sustainable alternates such as adopting a reduced waste policy and switching to renewable sources of energy within our work environments.

We can use our platforms to talk about the importance of good hygiene, how it can be achieved and the need for clean water, while simultaneously pushing our higher ups to take decisive steps in providing clean water and infrastructure aimed towards better sanitation.

Moreover, we can raise awareness regarding over population (a leading cause for various climate related problems) by providing safe methods of contraception to the uneducated, easing their apprehensions by dispelling various myths regarding these methods.

Goals such as aiming for peace, justice and strong institutions, reduced inequalities, and gender equality in simple terms hope to achieve greater social inclusion within our communities.

As a future healthcare professionals it is extremely important to look within ourselves and purge out any racial, sexist or classist biases that we may be harbouring. We need to advocate for equality and equity in the way various minorities are provided treatment, call out any prejudice we see within our own spaces against either patients or even our own colleagues belonging from a minority group and give space for their voices to be heard.

About the author

Areeba Tahir is a third year medical student, studying at Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan. She is currently the director of Publications Support Division at her Local council and has been a part of IFMSA-Pakistan for the past three years.

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