|Name: Muhesh Taheem
Medical School: Imperial College School of Medicine
Year of study: 5
Event: Imperial College Surgical Society Global Health Hackathon
What motivated you to become a Lifebox-Medsin Rep?
If you asked me what the biggest problem with the global community today, my answer would be inequality. I mean that in several contexts but naturally, due to my career path being so heavily intertwined with the health of the world this is where my focus lies. That we live in a global community where there is such scientific and technological progress, yet such vast gulfs exist between those who receive good and poor or even no healthcare is disappointing to say the least. Following the BeyondBORDERS event held at the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) in 2016, I found my focus and reached out to Medsin where I was thankfully directed to the Lifebox-Medsin Representative Scheme.
You recently organised a Hackathon as part of the Imperial Surgical Society conference. How did you come up with this idea?
At Imperial College London’s Fresher’s Fair I personally visited some of the other societies stalls to alert them to this representative scheme. Imperial Surgical Society (ICSM) was naturally one of these and I asked if there was any way in which we could work together to further the Global Surgery Cause. Their Surgical Innovation Conference was mentioned and being aware of Lifebox’s involvement in innovating to solve Global Surgery’s problems, I saw an opportunity. The concentration of young, enthusiastic and intelligent people thirsty to drive the surgical profession forwards was the perfect environment to invite them to answer one of Global Surgery’s questions! Not only providing fun for everyone involved, it would enable the further dispersion of the Global Surgery cause and unveil the gravity of the problem itself.
What activities did students undertake as part of this hackathon and what have they gained from this experience?
The students worked together to devise a way of effectively and resourcefully overcoming the issue of achieving surgical sterility in low and middle income countries. They did this within the space of an hour, using their individual knowledge and skills combined with the internet. They then went on to deliver a one minute pitch to a panel of judges from varied backgrounds, who went on to question their designs and ultimately score the teams to select a winner. It was fascinating to see the broad range of ideas and the different pitching strategies from such a young cohort.
Why do you think it’s important for medical students to get involved in global surgery?
Global Surgery is everyone’s problem and not confined to low-resource settings. The damage of not trying to help the situation means trillions of dollars in lost wealth to the countries which will inevitably impact the global economy. It’s easy to ignore problems that are not on our doorstep but the ramifications in this case extend beyond the borders of the countries within which the issue primarily exists. Involving medical students opens avenues at an early stage to a problem, which until recently had not garnered much public attention. Through medical students merely being aware of the issue, there will be greater exposure to charities such as Lifebox who need the support of the wider healthcare community to enact its missions. Also through involving medical students and junior healthcare professionals, there lies the potential to recruit people to the cause and help to resolve the inequalities that exist.
What does safer surgery mean to you?
My first memory of surgery as a medical student was a large trauma surgery, which involved the patient having bones in their pelvis repaired as well as complex facial surgery. There were at least two consultant surgeons in the room, not to mention the many senior and junior surgical trainees all trying to make the future as promising as possible for the victim of a car accident. The range of surgical monitoring available had me taken aback and I just got the sense that this patient was really going to be okay. To think that in some countries there are patients who don’t even have effective ambulance services is truly humbling. For me, safer surgery is the idea that inequality in the access to effective and evidence-based surgery is resolved. That the likelihood in someone receiving critical surgical intervention, delivered in a clean and well equipped environment, isn’t dependent on where they live.
Learn more about our Lifebox-Medsin Rep Scheme here.