An Ambitious Agenda, a Debilitating Pandemic and how Medical Students fit into it

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Jainil Devani, a First Year Medical Student at GMERS Gotri Medical College, Vadodara, India. He 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.

When the Sustainable Development Goals, known popularly as the “Agenda 2030” were established in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly, the affect of a crippling future pandemic could not possibly have been predicted. Now, this roadmap for the world — split in 17 wide-reaching goals — that already seemed daunting, feels almost discouraging in and of itself.

The 17 goals, all set to be completed by 2030, are of a plethora of aspects, driven to achieve a hopeful, better future. COVID-19 has set back economies, imbalanced governments and still continues to take a devastating toll on the world. And obviously, the progress on the 2030 agenda will be affected. Yet, this pandemic has taught humanity to be resilient and determined.

We must build back stronger, better. The pandemic has put a spotlight on humanitarian issues, and the 2030 Agenda already lays down methods, actions and indicators to progress and improve in each aspect. As future healthcare professionals, we must be undeterred and strive to play our part in the way forward.

Goal 3 of Agenda 2030: Good Health and Well-being. This goal takes centre stage in the current situation; alongside curbing infectious diseases, it also lists points that the pandemic has exaggerated: mental health issues, and substance abuse, among others. As future medical professionals, a complete, palliative care should be the primary goal, moving forward. COVID-19 has shown us that the mental effects of illnesses can be harrowing – in isolation, in hopelessness, anxiety. A Holistic approach to healthcare is integral to well being.

Goal 3 also consists of checkpoints for vaccine distribution, access to healthcare, and reproductive freedom. A global, more targeted effort toward medical research, and trying to develop better and more effective warning systems for international health risks. All of these require informed effort and co-operation from future healthcare professionals, doctors and researchers.

Along with Goal 3, several other goals like Innovation & Technology, Gender Equality will also require active and important participation from us. It is well-established that healthcare providers are not just clinicians, but also a cornerstone of societal well-being. We must understand our role and platform and work towards meaningful change. Be it a step forward in global research, or local awareness programs about gender equality or vaccinations — the role of future doctors is vital in the road forward.

The 193 countries that approved Agenda 2030 five years ago, didn’t anticipate an international health emergency. But they also didn’t anticipate that because of this pandemic, we’d require a set framework, organisation and co-operation to build back stronger and towards a better future. The Agenda 2030 is a blueprint for exactly that. Along with leaders and governments, the future healthcare professionals like us must also assume our roles and responsibilities, count on the indomitable human spirit to recover from this pandemic, and play our tiny roles in this journey – which will synergise and propel humanity towards a better tomorrow.

About the author

Jainil Devani is a First Year Medical Student at GMERS Gotri Medical College, Vadodara, India. He is a member of the MSAI (Medical Students Association of India), under IFMSA. His recent article was featured in the Medial Students International Journal 43, and he has also previously contributed articles to The European Sting. He stood 1st in a National Anatomy Paper Contest, “iKAL” organised by Saveetha Medical College, Chennai.

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