Medical Students On a Mission provide healthcare within Bulgaria and across the world, one screening at a time
Foreign and Bulgarian students reach out to those that cannot be reached
Written by MSOM Sofia Ambassadors Oyinlola Bello, Sherilyn Gotru, Kabilan Arivanandan and Dania Al-Tamimi, adapted for Open Sofia.
Medical Students On a Mission (MSOM) is an NGO operating to provide healthcare and health education to communities deprived of such.
The NGO, founded 3 years ago by fourth-year Medical and Dental students from Plovdiv Medical University, has grown tremendously as a charity. It has widened into branches in Sofia and Pleven, in addition to the upcoming international branches; MSOM Nigeria and MSOM Nepal.
SheSpeaks is an additional branch of MSOM founded in Plovdiv with a group of women committed to creating a nurturing and inclusive environment where they can build a network of women, for women, by women. MSOM Academia is a new implementation to the organisation, directed to the provision of supplemental medical education for students whilst encouraging research-led projects and audits.
To reach those individuals that are deprived of access to primary care, MSOM hosts medical screening camps throughout the year both locally in Bulgaria, and internationally in various countries around the world.
Similarly, MSOM have annual Diabetes and Hypertension screening camps whereby they are able to provide aid and healthcare to locals across Bulgaria. Furthermore, MSOM have conducted an Ophthalmology screening project in Nepal. This venture involves student volunteers travelling to villages within Nepal during the summer months, targeting areas where eye diseases are the most prevalent.
To make these projects feasible, MSOM host a series of fundraising events throughout the year. Events range from bake sales to Christmas inspired nights and talent shows. All proceeds raised go towards screening camps and medical equipment, thus ensuring everything is free of charge on the patient’s end.
Furthermore, within the educational sector, MSOM Academia host Medical seminars and workshops for students that are focused on enhancing their knowledge. They assist and offer opportunities for students to partake in extracurricular academic activities, research projects and audits. At present, MSOM students have conducted and presented research in Germany and Bulgaria with many more research projects in the work.
Throughout the weekend of 28 February to 1 March 2020, the non-governmental organisation MSOM arranged for 22 international students from Medical Universities of Sofia, Plovdiv and Pleven to begin screening in Sandanski and Petrich. Here, they were led by two outstanding physicians: Dr. Atanas Banchev, a leading specialist in Paediatric Haematology and Oncology at the ‘Tsaritsa Yoanna Hospital - ISUL’ in Sofia and Dr. Ivo Sirakov, a specialist in Microbiology and Assistant Professor at Medical University, Sofia.
When asked to describe the experience in one word, one student said:
“I would say rewarding! Seeing our patients happy made it worth the effort. Even more so, when we had the chance to spend the festive day of Baba Marta with them. We truly understood the extent of our work when they asked us for selfies, gifted us with Martenitsas to celebrate the occasion and home-made Banitsa, which I must say was delicious!”.
This is not the first medical education and screening campaign of future physicians by MSOM. Last year, the student-led charity worked with Dr. Elina Beleva of the Department of Medical Haematology and Oncology at the University Hospital ‘Sveti Georgi’ in Plovdiv, when 82 patients were screened at the Zlatograd Municipality.
The students then had the opportunity to present their findings at the European Students’ Conference (ESC) in Berlin in September 2019. Similarly, MSOM conduct free screenings for Diabetes and Hypertension which includes their annual medical camp in the Plovdiv village of Trud, as well as their Paediatric screening in Sofia’s National Palace of Culture (NDK) in December 2019.
An Ambassador of MSOM said:
“Our goal is to make healthcare accessible to all by providing free healthcare in restricted areas with the desire to express our gratitude to Bulgaria: a nation which has provided us with opportunities. This was yet another opportunity. Thank you all sincerely!”
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