MedAID: An innovative, student-led society paving the way towards sustainability in healthcare

Student MedAID is a student-led society and charity based here at the University of Edinburgh, making headlines in recent months due to our work in increasing sustainability in medicine and decreasing healthcare inequalities worldwide. Find out more in this blog from the fourth year Medical students, Nur Shazlin Shek Daud, the Vice-President and Alba Saenz de Villaverde, the President of the society.

As an organisation, we hope 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.

Student MedAID collects unwanted and out of date, but viable, medical equipment from hospitals in Edinburgh and more recently, throughout the UK. We then coordinate its redistribution to under-resourced medical institutions abroad through medical students on electives, humanitarian health workers and other NGOs. Our aim is not only to increase the accessibility of healthcare in places where it is most needed but increase the sustainability of the NHS as well.

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), Pride Forde Foundation (Sierra Leone) and many others to deliver equipment throughout the world. To date, our equipment has been redistributed and repurposed in 11 countries worldwide including South Africa, Chad, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Greece, Peru, Malawi, Nepal, Namibia, India and Uganda! We have managed to clear our storeroom several times – volumes in an amount not seen before! We have also become more involved with University events; the Sustainability Awards, the Sustainability Case-Study Submission and our nomination for the Student Awards: Contribution to the Global Community Section.

We are now looking to expand this fantastic initiative throughout the UK. Student MedAID has helped open a new sister organisation in Leeds, and are looking forward to expanding to Oxford, Cambridge and Dundee next semester. Our most ambitious goal is to change local and national NHS waste policy – and we have begun to do this as well! Two of our members, Alba and Shazlin, gave a talk to St John’s Anaesthesia Department, and further talks with members of the hospital board are now planned post-Covid-19 disruption. We have also joined the NHS Greener Lothian community and the NHS Waste Recycling Meeting, truly realising our dream of creating a sustainability network between healthcare professionals and students.

Student MedAID also has a veterinary branch to enable surpluses from local veterinary hospitals to be redistributed to clinics and shelters in need worldwide. The veterinary branch has redistributed supplies to Brooke East Africa in Kenya, the Bianca shelter in Portugal, Paphiakos, CCP Animal Welfare in Cyprus and many more!

Due to our increasing efforts in raising awareness, people are slowly getting to know more and more about what we do, and there is so much willingness from hospital staff and volunteers to help us. With our recently elected committee, composed of students from a range of courses such as Medicine, Veterinary and Law, we can’t wait to get started to make even more change next year!

Student MedAID also has a veterinary branch so that surpluses from local veterinary hospitals can be redistributed to clinics and shelters in need worldwide. We are proud to mention that our veterinary branch also has a positive impact globally, with supplies being redistributed to Brooke East Africa in Kenya, the Bianca shelter in Portugal, Paphiakos, CCP Animal Welfare in Cyprus and many more!

Find out more on MedAID’s website
Follow MedAID on Instagram

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