Changing the face of medicine: Why social accountability and Sustainable Development Goals are so important?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Maria Eduarda Mesquita, a final year medical student in Brazil and currently specializing in Health Education. 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.

            In 1995, the World Health Organization published a document proposing that medical schools should be obliged to prioritize health concerns of the community they have a mandate to serve. They established that improving community health isn’t an act medical schools do out of good faith or charity, but an obligation. Twenty five years later, we are still far from reaching social accountable schools. An improvement can however be expected with the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

To appropriately undertake  this discussion, we have to clarify the concepts of Social Responsibility, Responsiveness and Accountability. Social Responsibility means to recognise and be aware of community problems. Social responsiveness further addresses how to respond to those problems, .. SA, however, goes far beyond both. It means to engage with the community, discuss and implement solutions , while placing  education at a spotlight. SA perceives education as a participative and transformative process, as Paulo Freire, a brazilian education patron, defines it..

            When thinking of doctors, we usually picture a  white rich cis heterosexual male, and this view could make it difficult for the community to think of that position as somehting achievable. Medicine has had a long history of privilege, and only a select  few have been able  to be admitted and pay for college. Even in countries that possess free public schools, accessibility remains a problem. The SDGs 1 and 4, no poverty and quality education, propose a different path.They ensure problems that would otherwise divert students to work, such as food insecurity, no longer pose such a barrier.. In addition, once basic education is secure, hhigher education will become much more accessible. .

            When we think about health care promotion, no one truly understands a population better than one of its own members, diversity is therefore a way to improve representation and healthcare quality. For that reason, supporting underrepresented genders, people of color and LGBTQI+ people in medical schools is essential, as well as increasing the presence of students from rural areas and of low socioeconomic status, as SDGs 5 and 10 propose.

            Simply recognizing the lack of minorities amongst medical doctors is not enough. There will be no change unless we take action about it. Institutional problems require institutional actions, and not only a statement of the medical schools about just  how much they support equity.

            Furthermore, we should evaluate our schools’ social accountability, to identify weaknesses and discuss how we can improve, with the SDGs being a valuable guide in that journey. The possibilities of actions to be implemented are endless, but some of the more pressing changes revolve around implementation of scholarships to people of low socioeconomic status, policies to provide  support for students to use their gender identities as they wish, as well as their chosen names. Afterwards we will need to create mechanisms to diminish dropout rates of students in vulnerable positions.Such actions will, not only benefit these populations, but will help improve the quality of care provided to the whole community and to strenght healthcare and educational systems.

About the author

Maria Eduarda Mesquita is a final year medical student in Brazil and currently specializing in Health Education. She works as Latin America and Caribbean Regional Liaison at the Gender Equity Initiative in Global Surgery (GEIGS). She’s an active member of both the International Federation of Medical Students Associations(IFMSA) and of the International Student’s Surgical Network (InciSioN).

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

Why the foundations of the modern world are costing the earth

World Cancer Day: Early cervical cancer diagnosis could save lives of over 300,000 women

Covid-19 crisis shows supply chains need to embrace new technologies

What is adversarial artificial intelligence and why does it matter?

MEPs want to ensure sufficient funding for Connecting Europe’s future

Two out of every five American couples now meet online

Trade defence report: restoring the level playing field for European producers

Peace operations benefit from improved cooperation between the UN and troop-providing countries, says peacekeeping chief

Switzerland has the most highly skilled workers in the world. This is why

Infringement – Commission takes Italy to Court for its incomplete regime of access to genetic resources

Capital Markets Union: Making it easier for insurers to invest in the real economy

Venezuela: ‘A worrying destabilizing factor in the region’, Bachelet tells Human Rights Council

How cocoa farming can help stop deforestation

Inaction over climate emergency ‘not an option’ says UN Assembly chief

A Year in China

Drug laws must be amended to ‘combat racial discrimination’, UN experts say

What UK and EU risk if Brexit “wins” these elections

€200 million to promote European agri-food products in and outside the EU

Palliative care and Universal Health Coverage: how to advocate for the inclusion of palliative care in UHC

Eurozone in trouble after Nicosia’s ‘no’

Questions and Answers on the EU Digital Covid Certificate

The Shifting Rhythms of Harmonious China: Ancient, Modern & Eternal

Obsolete tech is clogging up global trade. Here’s how to unblock it

Rebuilding after COVID: The challenge is digital

UNIDO promotes post-harvest excellence for mangoes in the Mekong River Delta of Viet Nam

Palliative Care: a human right

Collective action now, the only way to meet global challenges, Guterres reaffirms in annual report

NHS: A great healthcare system but how accessible is it to migrants?

Sub10 Systems @ MWC14: Bridging the Ethernet of the Future

Citizens to be the cornerstone of the Conference on the Future of Europe

Lessons learnt, unlearnt or re-learnt? Analyzing the third wave of COVID-19

The post-pandemic future of work – according to 3,000 CEOs from around the world

Growing a new coral reef in a fraction of the time with a fragment of the coral

Poland: €676 million worth of EU investments in better rails and roads

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

Ocean life faces ‘onslaught of threats’ from human activity, but tools exist to save it

270 million people are migrants, who send home a staggering $689 billion

Human rights: breaches in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan

Climate action ‘both a priority and a driver of the decade’: Guterres

Coronavirus Global Response: WHO and Commission launch the Facilitation Council to strengthen global collaboration

As tech disrupts our jobs, it’s not too late to turn pain into gain

State aid: Commission approves €2 billion Italian guarantee scheme to support trade credit insurance market in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

Teachers launch a free ebook to help children cope with the pandemic

COVID-19 has been a setback for women. Gender-responsive policies can stem the losses

How COVID-19 vaccine efforts could help defeat other diseases

European financial values on the rise

Human Rights breaches in Iran, Kazakhstan and Guatemala

COVID-19: EU helps to deliver vaccines to Moldova and medical items to Montenegro and North Macedonia

UN Human Rights chief urges Venezuela to halt grave rights violations

West Bank: ‘imminent’ demolition of Palestinian village could be ‘war crime’ – ICC Prosecutor

Cities will lead the electric transport revolution. Here’s why

An alternative view of Globalization 4.0, and how to get there

This is what Belgium’s traffic-choked capital is doing about emissions

Closing the gaps in accelerating women’s rights: the role of medical students

Companies ‘failing’ to address offline harm incited by online hate: UN expert

Why the 33,000 staff European Commission did not have a real contingency plan for the refugee crisis?

‘Maintain calm’ and ‘exercise patience’ UN envoy urges, as Nigeria heads to polls

This UK footballer just won free school meals for kids in the summer holidays

6 stages for fostering and harnessing imagination in companies

‘We will not give up on looking for peace for South Sudan’: UN deputy chief

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

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

You are commenting using your 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

%d bloggers like this: