The Federation of African Medical Students Associations (FAMSA) recently held the 32nd Edition of its General Assembly in November 2018. This year’s conference which took place in Ibadan, Nigeria, equally marked the celebration of her 50th year in existence with the theme “Repositioning Healthcare in Africa for Sustainable Development”.
For several years now, FAMSA has been focused on inspiring generations of healthcare students and participants to take charge and play active roles in structuring the future of healthcare in Africa for sustainable development. This conference unlike any other held in history, was such an engaging conference experience where healthcare students were able to meet with key industry experts, policymakers, academicians and many more
The 5-day conference comprised of keynote addresses, plenary sessions, workshops, scientific presentations, hackathons, training sessions, exhibitions, cultural night, trade fair, sports friendlies, and City tours. With every discussion capturing unique pain points and tackling healthcare issues throughout the conference, participants were thrilled as the conference gained more momentum each day.
After the arrival of delegates, the conference officially started on Monday the 19th of November. Here are some Highlights of the conference:
The Opening ceremony
The Opening address was given by Prof. E. Oluwabunmi Olapade-Olaopa, the Provost of the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan. He emphasized that the development of Africa is something that must be understood by her youths and that even as youth try to ensure greener pastures for themselves; they must endeavour to come back and give back to Africa. This was followed by a welcome address by Professor A.O. Omigbodun (Patron and Chair Advisory Board).
To give the keynote address was a representative of the Regional Director for Africa WHO, Dr. Clement Lugala, (officer in charge WHO Nigeria) as well as a video message from Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus (Director-General of the World Health Organization).
Plenaries and Breakout sessions
Sustaining the momentum, the conference featured various plenary and breakout sessions on topics such as Infectious diseases in Africa: Are we really winning? The Burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs): Taking a quantum leap, Mental Health: Breaking the silence, Maternal, and Child Health in Africa: The Wages of Disconnect, Medical Education in Africa: Curriculum, research, and Mentorship, Social Determinants of Health: Connecting the Dots.
These topics were adequately discussed by seasoned professionals including Dr. Clement Lugala (Officer in Charge WHO) Dr. Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde, (Director Health Workforce Education & Development, African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation), Dr. Michael Kivwanga, (Global Execution Lead, Mental Health and Special, Johnson & Johnson Global Public Health) Adam Thompson (Co-founder of eHealth Systems, Africa) and Dr. Stephen Obaro (Director Of International Paediatric Research Program, University of Nebraska Medical Centre, USA) to name a few.
There were several workshops which took place simultaneously. They include;
- The Burden of NCDs and the Younger Generation; Taking a quantum leap, by The Wellbeing Initiative.
- Mental Health and the Health Care Student by the Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI).
- The Reso-Hackathon Challenge by the Contents Team.
- Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care/Wash by The Wellbeing Foundation Africa.
One of the key highlights from the conference was a video address from Dr. Paulin Basinga, (Nigerian Country Director, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). In his address, he informed the audience about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and went ahead to give 12 suggestions and key advice he believes medical students should know to enable them to excel in their careers.
Another noteworthy moment was the special session by Dr. Ibraheem Badejo, Senior Director, New Ventures at Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Boston who announced the challenge by the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies; “Africa Innovation challenge 2.0”. The challenge which is targeted at uncovering entrepreneurs in Africa who have a creative solution to various pressing local healthcare needs offers potential winners up to US$50,000 in financial support and resources to help bring their ideas to market.
With over 600 attendees spanned across students, healthcare professionals, NGOs, Policymakers, Researchers and Industry experts from 11 countries, the conference was a fully packed, informative and educative forum that stirred all who were in attendance to proffer solutions towards achieving a better healthcare system in Africa.
See photos from the event below: