Medical students from different parts of gathered for a regional meeting to harness their abortion service delivery and advocacy skills.
Medical Students for Choice (MSFC) is a non-profit student-led organization that has tirelessly, through the numerous grassroots chapters worldwide, extended not only equipment and materials necessary for safe abortion training but also created a safe space where young people like me with a dream of becoming pro-physicians can go ahead achieve it. For over two decades, MSFC has been dedicated to generating a pool of safe abortion service providers and advocates worldwide, and amazing work has been done in the marginalized parts of the world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, where I come from. My country of origin is Uganda. I’m currently in my final year pursuing a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery at Gulu University, where I happen to serve as the chapter leader of the MSFC Gulu chapter. I attended the East African regional meeting on the 4th of September 2021, where the majority of chapters from East and central parts of Africa were represented both physically and online. Students at the conference came from Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi. In this regional meeting, we were trained on legal aspects of reproductive health, the life of an advocate, primary health coverage, healthcare in a resource-limited setting, and dynamics of family planning and safe abortion. Lastly, we had an opportunity to have a hands-on experience with Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) for surgical abortion using melons and pawpaw role-playing for female reproductive organs.
What did I learn from this regional gathering as a future pro-physician in Africa?
First and foremost, I learnt how to confidently use an MVA to initiate termination of a pregnancy or complete an underway process (Comprehensive Post Abortion Care), a lifesaving skill that the majority of our universities have denied us through our medical school training. Secondly, I learnt how to strongly advocate for curriculum reform in my university and advocate for safe abortion care to be adopted in the constitution as part of healthcare because, truth be told, it is. Events like this as so pivotal in our careers as service providers, Did my life change?! Definitely it did!