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32nd FAMSA General Assembly and Scientific Conference

FAMSA GA is the annual general assembly of member medical student associations of FAMSA from all around Africa. This year’s edition is the 32nd of its kind and will mark the 50th anniversary of the association. To celebrate FAMSA’s historic anniversary, University of Ibadan Medical Students’ Association (UIMSA) http://uimsa.org.ng will be hosting other medical students from all over Africa and the world as this edition will also feature a scientific conference themed “Repositioning healthcare in Africa for Sustainable Development”.

The 32nd FAMSA General Assembly and Scientific Conference will bring together young vibrant minds as well as professionals and relevant stakeholders in both the public and private sectors from across Africa and beyond to discuss ideas and initiate steps to position Africa on the path to sustainable development in health and by extension in every other sphere of human development. The conference will feature keynote addresses, plenary sessions, workshops, trainings, hackathon sessions, and scientific presentations on carefully selected subthemes all related and contributory to our goal of repositioning healthcare in Africa for Sustainable Development.

For more information about the general assembly, kindly visit http://famsaga2018.com

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A BRIEF INTROSPECTION INTO THE RELEVANCE OF MENTAL HEALTH IN TOTAL HEALTH

The mind is the embodiment of mental health. It houses, controls and refines the faculties of thoughts and memories in a finite balance so that to the outside world, everything would put on a normal, conforming and orderly outlook. More so, the mind’s conduct is the weighing scale for gauging the extremes and normality of mental health which is part and parcel of total health as rightly exemplified and postulated by the World Health Organization (W.H.O) in 1948.

However, it is worth remembering that right from the time of wearing figs and hides to the inception of concrete scientific philosophies, art, industry and innovation; the perception of mental health has been muddled up in myths and obscurity.

Why? We simply have discredited the sovereignty of the mind over the body; that there is an insoluble alignment between the physical body and the mind. A healthy mind represents a healthy body and vice versa. The realms are inseparably interwoven. It’s the subliminal reason behind why some corporeal disease elicit co-morbid mental illnesses too e.g. HIV and Dementia.

Thus, we cannot sit back to keep reciting endless details and facts. The way forward is to know, examine and accept that Health in its entirety is incomplete, bland and vulnerable to implications without a sound and bright mental stand.

This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Pat Ashinze.
College of Health Sciences,
University of Ilorin, Nigeria

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NO HEALTH WITHOUT MENTAL HEALTH

‘Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of but stigma and bias shame us all’- Bill Clinton

Individuals with good mental health are described as being in a state of well- being. Positive mental health includes emotion, cognition, and social functioning and coherence. (WHO: 2009). Mental illnesses present themselves in varies forms from anxiety to suicidal thought, affecting other aspects of life such as health, social life and work.

A psychiatrist is a doctor, as much as an endocrinologist is and their services are as accessible too. However, for a diabetic patient, it’s much easier to seek help compared to a mental illness patient. When we think about health we tend to separate mental and physical health, forgetting that mental health controls our physical health and vice versa. Anxiety is one well known mental illness. Innumerable people have been anxious for a few seconds at least once in their lives. It is associated with, increased heart rate, chest pain and restlessness. A continuous state of anxiety can lead to increased chances of acquiring various chronic physical illnesses such as heart attacks, diabetes and a weakened immune system; illnesses that can be prevented if the core, the mental illness is treated. Furthermore, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Not only does a mental illness affect body but also affects various aspects of life such as the quality of work leading to economic losses.

For many years, people focused on genetics and neurotransmitters as being the major cause of mental illnesses, where this is true, recent studies have identified that the environment has a great impact on mental health. The general breakdown of causes of mental disorders is;

  • Biological; genetically inherited, brain defects or infection by certain bacteria or viruses
  • Psychological; emotional/ physical/ sexual abuse, trauma, family violence
  • Environmental; death of a loved one, substance abuse, romantic failures

Everyone experiences days where they are low or upset but a few surpass the fine line and develop a more serious mental illness. The normalization of some mental health disorders has desensitized us from it severity. ’I feel depressed’, ‘I just want to kill myself’- these are phrases we say or hear often when people are low or stressed. It has become so common that we can’t identify when people are actually suffering from the condition. Depression isn’t merely a feeling; it is a struggle. A fight every day to try and find reason for existence.

For several years there has been a negative attitude towards mental illnesses in some cultures and societies encouraging stigma towards those who are courageous enough to admit they have a mental illness. Despite one out of four people suffering from a mental illness, many remain undiagnosed due to the fear of discrimination and are unable to seek assistance despite there being many several professionals present. Sadly, it is still associated mental illness with curses, evil spirits and witchcraft in some societies. The ‘taboo’ is more prominent in African cultures. For so long mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression have been considered ‘white man’ diseases.

Patients who resist seeking attention from professionals tend to ‘self-medicate’ using other methods such as substance abuse and self-mutualisation. These mechanisms provide temporary relief from the uncomfortable symptoms but eventually place the user at risk of mental health illness. An area of the brain known as the hippocampus that is associated with emotion, stress control and long term memory gets impaired, making it that much harder for a patient to recover during treatment. On one hand people take drugs to escape depression, anxiety while on the other hand there are those taking drugs just for recreational purposes, therein resulting in self-inflicted mental health conditions. Patients with both a substance abuse problem and mental illness are said to have a co-occurring disorder.

In some cases, patients from low-middle income countries and regions, willing to seek assistance are unable to do so due to the lack of resources such as mental health services and human resources (psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, etc.). 800,000! That is the estimated number of people that commit suicide annually between the ages of 15-29 globally according to the WHO, rate being higher in men more than women. This is because women are more open to seeking help or discussing their issues with others compared to the men. Furthermore, having a combination of mental illnesses increases the likelihood of suicide attempts.

Mental health is the fundamental basis of a good healthy community and therefore deserves a significant amount of attention rather than prejudice. Everyone has a part to play in the mental health of family members, friends and communities health by being more mindful and attentive to them. As a society we should create an environment where an individual is comfortable enough to express their feelings preventing progression of their condition.

‘We need to be allowed to fall apart’ – Selena Gomez

Wanjiru Ndumu
Sunaina Bains

 

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AN AFRICAN CHILD’S VIEW OF MALARIA

The average African child has heard of malaria countless times. It probably comes to mind when a friend in school runs a temperature,  a sibling vomits or when a relative complains of stomach pain.

For *Fred, he did not consider malaria as a life threatening disease. It is only when his primary six teacher told him that their relative died of malaria that he saw the gravity of the disease.

He didn’t understand why someone would die of malaria because back at home, mum had a drawer full of drugs that was given to everyone every year’s quarter as treatment for malaria. At the time, Malaria never meant anything more than vomiting and fever.

Years ago, grandma had warned him to stop taking oil, papaya, orange, tomatoes and basically every other fruit that even had a splash of orange, yellow or red colors as they caused Malaria. At home, he would have sleepless nights due to the buzzing of mosquitoes and the painful stings they’d give.

When He got into Secondary school, the Nigerian Government gave out mosquito nets to all students in Federal Unity Colleges as part of their programs to free the country from the bondage of Malaria. After using the net, he noticed that he could sleep peacefully most nights without the buzzing or biting of the mosquitoes. His friend would cover himself with his mosquito net like a blanket. He got a high fever a few days later and was diagnosed with Malaria.

Later on, they had a class on Malaria. They learnt that its method of transmission is through a mosquito called the female Anopheles mosquito. They were also taught that mosquitoes have various species such as Anopheles, Aedes and Culex. Their teacher added that the causative agent, the plasmodium, has different species too; falciparum, vivax, malariae and knowlesi. The teacher had also mentioned passively that the name Malaria was adopted from Latin, meaning ‘bad air’.

On his return home for the Christmas holidays, he couldn’t help but notice that all the windows and doors in the house had mesh on them. In the house, all beds had nets dangling from the ceiling and were all well tucked in. The next morning, he noticed that the compound looked different and that the place where the weeds had grown wild looked almost as flat as the grass he played on in school.

Even the little body of water that was usually left stagnant days after heavy rains was nowhere in sight. Mum said that she had made dad do the clearing after they had been given a talk in church on Malaria prevention. They had been taught that stagnant water and long grass are breeding grounds for mosquito larvae.

That evening as he went to buy groundnuts for his mum, he noticed that some women had used the mosquito net as fences for their farms. When he asked his mum about this. She told him that the nets were being used improperly. She then said that Malaria could be defeated by using the mosquito nets in houses and not in farms and carefully discarding empty containers. She also insisted on the importance of the community adhering to the Saturday morning cleanup of bushes and surroundings.

Fred understood Malaria and worked to have his community educated on how Malaria is transmitted and how it can be treated. He now wishes for a world free of Malaria and always sleeps under his mosquito net.

(*: not the real name).

By Archibong, Abasi-Ifreke Aniefiok (400 level)
University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, Uyo.
Nigeria.

 

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STOP THE COUGH

CALL FOR BLOG ARTICLES

 

Theme: Stop the cough: From the base to the ivory towers

 

In commemoration of the International Tuberculosis Day, March 24, 2018, FAMSA welcomes articles of medical students in member associations .

Can you suggest ways in which everyone can be involved in the pursuit of a world without TB? Families that are the units of each society to social, cultural, religious and political leaders as well as employers of labor; Is there a role for everyone to play so that we can effectively end tuberculosis?

 

We can not wait to hear from you! Please send your articles as .doc or docx files to scopubfamsa@gmail.com by March 20, 2018.

 

 

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ARRÊTEZ LA TOUX

FEDERATION OF….

FÉDÉRATION DES ASSOCIATIONS AFRICAINES D’ETUDIANTS EN MÉDECINE.

 

Call for blog articles.

Appel pour articles de blog.

 

Thème:Arrêter la toux

 

From the…

De la base aux tours d’ivoire

 

In commemoration…

En commémoration de La Journée Internationale de Tuberculose,le 24 Mars 2018, FAMSA accueille des articles d’étudiants en médecine dans les associations membre. Peux tu proposer des moyens dont tout le monde peut être impliqué dans la poursuite d’un monde sans la tuberculose?Des familles qui sont les unités des chaque sociéte aux leaders sociaux, culturels,religieux et politiques ainsi que les employeurs du travail; y at-il un rôle pour tout le monde à jouer pour que nous puissions effectivement mettre fin à tuberculose?

 

Nous avons hâte d’avoir tes nouvelles! Veillez envoyer vos articles sous forme de fichiers .doc ou docx à scopubfamsa@gmail.com avant le 20 Mars 2018.

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