4th September 2020
By Alba Saenz de Villaverde & Shazlin Shek Daud
Illustrations by Christine Davis and Rashi Agarwal, Creative Directors
For many years, we’ve known climate change is a significant public health threat. Our lifestyles have threatened not only the health of the planet but, ironically, our own as well. Paradoxically, medicine itself, the apparent cure to our ills, also has a considerable environmental impact. In fact, the NHS was previously found to be one of the largest public-sector contributors to the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Since then, large steps have been taken both within and outside this large organization to solve this issue. However, our work at Student MedAID shows more work needs to still be urgently done.
Student MedAID is a student-led society and charity which hopes to encourage further thinking and research into potential opportunities to reduce the medical waste footprint, by facilitating the progress of the healthcare sector towards economic, social and environmental sustainability.
We collect unwanted and out of date medical equipment, but that can be used, from hospitals in Edinburgh and throughout the UK, and then coordinate its redistribution to under-resourced medical institutions abroad through medical students on electives, humanitarian health workers and other NGOs. Through our work, we hope to remove barriers and re-establish to the ethos of Dr Bevan and true origins of the NHS, which aimed at increasing healthcare access for all.
Over the past year, we have coordinated with a range of charities such as the Gambia Volunteers Trust, AlBir-SCIO (Chad), Rock Project Uganda, Project Soweto (South Africa) and many others to deliver equipment to up to 11 different countries throughout the world. We have also increasingly begun to be more proactive in our outreach. Whilst we routinely donate to the previous charities, the large volumes of equipment we collect from throughout the UK have recently been used to help urgent humanitarian crises. For example, we recently donated equipment to the Beirut crisis, and raised awareness of the cause through our social media, and hope to continue this amazing work with many others . We understand as students that what is urgently needed is increased legislation, healthcare funding and international cooperation, yet we hope to, in a way, provide a short-term, student-led solution whilst advocating for long-term change.
It is apparent what is needed are sustainable strategies and NHS policies, which we hope to advocate for through presentation at local hospitals, and in the future, throughout the community, in the hope, we can inspire healthcare leaders and members of the public alike to implement the approaches needed to reduce waste. From our presentation of stories from our donations, we hope to also raise awareness about the urgent need for reducing healthcare inequalities and providing aid for those who most need it.
Up to 40% of the equipment has been procured primarily from within Edinburgh. Due to our increasing efforts in raising awareness, we have recently begun to receive equipment from throughout the UK. The movement which initially began in Edinburgh is now known throughout the UK, encouraging the opening of a sister organisation in Leeds. Further societies are set to open in London, Aberdeen, Manchester, Dundee and Nottingham in the next few months as more and more students, universities and NHS trusts have become involved in this idea
We are always looking for passionate members to join our committee, our volunteer network, donate unwanted medical equipment or even set up their own local Student MedAID. Just taking a few moments of your day can make a huge difference in our community.
Follow our Facebook (Student MedAID), Instagram (student_medaid), Twitter (Student_MedAID) or webpage (https://www.studentmedaid.org) for more updates, and feel free to drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The simplest thing you can do is let others know about us. So please like, subscribe and comment!