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‘Delivering a better life’: National Medsin-UK Conference 2012

Ahimza Thirunavukarasu looks forward to next weekend’s Medsin National Conference in Warwick, UK.

There is no question regarding the importance of tackling Global Maternal and Child Health.  The world’s massive inequity is starkly demonstrated by the global variation in health of young children and mothers. These statistics are overwhelming. For example, 800 women die of preventable pregnancy or childbirth-related complications every day, 99% of which occurs in developing countries. One of the leading causes, secondary only to pneumonia, of under-5 child death worldwide is diarrhoea. The good news is that the world is not staying silent – two MDGs  target Maternal and Child mortality directly, and arguably a further five are indirectly entwined with Maternal and Child Health issues. Probably aided by this attention, maternal mortality dropped by almost 50% between 1990 and 2010, and the under-5 child mortality rate has dropped by 41%. Nevertheless, everyone would agree that the figures are still unacceptably high.

This is why this year’s National Medsin Conference Team from Warwick Medical School, based in the UK, has been working tirelessly to put together a conference to highlight the way in which this situation can, and should be, improved. This year’s conference, entitled: ‘Child and Maternal Health: Delivering a Better Life‘ will bring together speakers from around the UK who have specialist interests in Child, Maternal, and Women’s health. It’s looking like it’ll be a pretty jam-packed weekend, and with the number of delegates attending from around the country, we’re hoping that we’ll all feel suitably energised by the end of it!

We are fortunate to have passionate professionals from a variety of backgrounds, and from around the UK, coming to speak about some of the key areas in this subject for the Plenary sessions. This will include Professor Allen, International Officer for the Royal College of Paediatrics, who will talk about how UK-based health professionals can have an impact upon Child health. Jan Phipps, a midwife who has had various experiences at home and overseas, will speak about the ethics of working abroad. One plenary will focus on the interplay between society, culture, and women’s rights with respect to health, and will be led by three eminent O&G Consultants who have worked with women from a variety of backgrounds. The details of the speakers attending, as well as the full programme, can be found on the website.

Of course, these talks will be interspersed with interactive workshops to keep our minds (and bodies!) moving. There is a broad selection available from the ethics of Female Genital Mutilation, to the application of the UN Convention of Child Rights to everyday case scenarios. These workshops will also allow discussion of some topics that are closer to home, such as frugal innovation in the NHS and the behaviour of medical students on electives.

I know that I, for one, get rather overwhelmed by the seemingly unattainable status of professionals, so I’m looking to the Sunday afternoon Student-led plenary to be further inspired about what I can be doing in my current position. On top of all of this, the final session of the weekend will feature a Question Time, so that we’ll have a chance to fire any last questions at a panel of three doctors and two students with ample experience.

Call me frivolous – but I’m also really excited about the social parts of the weekend! As well as grabbing a chat and coffee with some of the inspiring speakers during the breaks, I also can’t wait to meet the other delegates. The Medsin- Warwick branch is relatively young, and I’d love to meet members of the other branches around the UK – to share ideas for spreading awareness, discuss Global health issues, and get to know like-minded people. I’m also really hoping to meet delegates from non-medical sectors, such as development and economics, so that we can pool ideas from differing standpoints and help each other understand the wider picture. Child and Maternal health is very much a social issue as much as it is a medical one, and collaboration is clearly the way to go! As well as those whom I’ll be hosting , I’m sure I’ll get to know many more delegates on the Saturday night social – the perfect break to help us rejuvenate between the two conference days! I can’t wait to get my dancing shoes on for the session led by the Warwick University Argentinian Tango Society, and I’m sure the exercise will make up for the ample ‘ethical’ food I plan to eat from’ Change Kitchen!

All in all, I think that the weekend’s going to leave everyone feeling crammed with ideas and energy! We hope that the awareness and skills we all gain can then be used to go forward and used for improving some of the most shocking and unacceptable problems faced today.

Tickets are still available for the conference 20-21st October at Warwick university so do book soon! They are only £30 for students and £50 for non-students, including the whole conference, food AND accommodation, hosting by Medsin members in Warwick. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@Medsinnc12) for updates and further information!

Ahimza Thirunavukarasu is a 3rd year graduate medical student at Warwick medical school. As well as being on the Medsin-Warwick committee since her 1st year she has been heavily involved in organising the Medsin 2012 national conference. She has a long-standing interest in global health and regularly takes part in related campaigns and fundraising activities.

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