SLEMSA held its 3rd national general assembly on the 22nd -23rd August, 2017 at the Bank Complex in Freetown. The GA is a conference that brings together medical students in the country. It is aimed at building the capacity of medical students in various subject areas including soft skills that they will need in the future as healthcare providers. The theme for this year’s conference was “Safe Surgery and Universal Health Coverage”. Access to safe surgical care is crucial for the population of Sierra Leone, yet the vast majority of the population has no access to skilled surgical care, largely due to high cost and because of shortages of staff equipment, drugs and supplies.
<Mohamed Bella Jalloh>
Over 350 medical students were in attendance and had the honor of hearing Professor Temidayo O. Ogundiran as the keynote speaker. He gave an insightful presentation on global surgery and the challenges of safe surgery in low- and middle-income countries like Sierra Leone. We also had the privilege of listening to the Director General of the National Social Security and Insurance Trust, where he talked about the Sierra Leone Health Insurance Scheme. There is a need for a reliable and sustainable domestic financing model to increase universal health coverage in an efficient and equitable way.
With surgical ailments being significant contributors to the global burden of disease, efforts to increase the interest and understanding in global surgery amongst medical students must be expanded. One crucial avenue toward achieving surgical workforce needs to involve exposing, educating and motivating medical students to participate in global surgery initiatives.
The second day of the conference offered unique training opportunities for students. We organized six sessions including global surgery and primary trauma care. The sessions were very much educative, interactive and fun-filled.