Global Neurosurgery Conference 2017 – Rabat, Morocco

After attending the Global Surgery Summer School last July in London, I became aware of how disproportionately surgical diseases affect the poorest people around the world. Currently being a second-year medical student at EUC Rotterdam, The Netherlands, I am very motivated to engage and help. Therefore, I participated in the first student-led Global Neurosurgery conference in Rabat, Morocco, organized by InciSioN and IFMSA-Morocco.

<Sebastiaan van Meyel>

In the early morning of the 11th of November 2017, everybody at the Abulcasis International University of Health Sciences in Rabat was excited about the forthcoming event where around 150 medical students participated. The main purpose of the day was to expand our academic horizons and learn how to advocate for global surgery, and neurosurgery in particular, and at the same time broaden our career options in these fields.

The programme was delivered through a combination of morning lectures, panels and highly interactive afternoon workshops. First, we started in a lecture-based-setting with different sub-themes of global surgery. After a coffee break, we enjoyed listening to the new insights into the role of global neurosurgery. These talks, especially reflecting on the African situation, enabled us to understand the challenges and opportunities of African Neurosurgery, and it also made me aware of the differences in medical education in Africa compared to that in other parts of the world. Another inspirational talk highlighted the efforts in global neurotrauma research. The morning sessions were rounded off with an interesting presentation about global anaesthesia. It was great to see how many efforts and endeavours already have been made. Subsequently, an interactive panel discussion with both Moroccan and international speakers took place.

Although the audience interacted with the panellists and created some engagement, it was the afternoon workshops that truly involved everyone. The barriers were clearly broken down and the talks became more open, with a much higher level of informality. In the afternoon, I joined the screening of the Checklist Effect, an eye-opening documentary elucidating the urgent need and shortcomings of surgical equipment and care around the world. I valued my second workshop too, being “The World of Global Surgery and Anaesthesia”. This high-level panel discussion by internationally-renowned neurosurgeons offered the opportunity to engage in a passionate exchange of ideas on the past, present and future of global surgery and global anaesthesia. We all left the room satisfied of this energizing debate, which consolidated our knowledge and left us with better understanding of the critical issues. I believe the amount of ambassadors for global surgery that day surged, or at least we got hope for positive future developments. As the icing on the cake, the national Moroccan soccer team qualified for the 2018 World Cup that day.

Overall, the first student-led Global Neurosurgery conference was a unique experience and it was great to have been part of it.

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