Learning to Network through IYLEP

IYLEP 2013 Reunion Participants with Meridian Team Members


Since coming back home from USA at IYLEP 2013, I have been involved with IFMSA-Iraq, or Iraq branch of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA). The IFMSA was officially established in 1951 after the end of World War II. It currently maintains 114 National Member Organizations in 108 different countries so far, and its main goals are divided according to the work of its 6 committees (Public Health, Medical Education, Professional Exchange, Researches Exchange, Human Rights and Peace, and Reproductive including AIDS).

For several years, my friends and I (most of whom are alumni of the international exchange programs) have been working on establishing an NMO (National Member Organization) of IFMSA in Iraq. So we did a lot of projects related to health care, medical education and many others to prove that Iraq is trust-worthy of this membership and to gain a seat in the main organization. The elections to vote for IFMSA-Iraq took place in IFMSA August General Assembly meeting, at which IFMSA Candidates from around the world discuss the new topics related to health, education, exchange programs, and any new upcoming activities. The number of IFMSA members worldwide increases each year, and there are now 1.2 million IFMSA members.

Each General Assembly is attended by no less than 1000 candidates and country representatives of IFMSA, and this year we finally made it! Iraq made it to the IFMSA and now there is officially a national member organization called IFMSA-Iraq. We got the approval last August which coincided with the end of the IYLEP, and we did a lot of activities since then. Many of them were related to public health and medical education.

IFMSA-Iraq main goals are:

• Providing Iraqi medical students with the opportunity to participate and learn through the existing international discussions that address pressing issues on the agenda of health in today’s world, like their peers around the world.

• Strengthening the position of medical students towards a culture of tolerance and understanding of multiculturalism, and access to systems and the health challenges in friendly countries through student exchange programs and international cooperation

• Permanent Representation of the Republic of Iraq in the International Association of Medical Students’ Association (IFMSA) and other international parties involved or have a  link with the organization such as WHO and UNESCO

I am a medical student, and I personally decided to get involved in the IFMSA after accidently reading a Curriculum Vitae of one of my father’s friends, who is also a doctor. It said he was a former President of IFMSA-Egypt, so I checked it out, learned all about the IFMSA, and realized we didn’t have one in Iraq so I joined a group of people who were working on the same case, and we made it at last.

In the mean time, our goal is to spread this organization to other Iraqi cities, and I will do that at our IYLEP Reunion this February, as I will invite my fellow friends there from all across Iraq to spread our activities all over the land. Some of these activities are concerned with awareness projects about hypertension, obesity, as well as other workshops and research projects related to the six committees of the Organization.

At IYLEP 2013, I participated in the Social Entrepreneurship and Community Development theme at Ball State University. It helped me to strengthen my fundamental experiences and skills in working with such a field, and I learned how to deal with people, and have a potential policy for leading a group of people, and how to mobilize a team as a leader, and encourage others to look upon me as a leader, not simply as a boss.