From the President: Mike McKirdy shares his vision for the College
08 Apr 2022
Writing in the Spring Edition of VOICE, President Mike McKirdy shares his vision for our College.
This article was first published in the Spring Edition of VOICE, our membership magazine. All members of the College can read VOICE in full when logged in on our website.
Since commencing my role as President of our College in December 2021, I have been humbled by the kind messages of support from Fellows and Members around the world. It is an honour and a privilege to be elected to this position, and please know that my intentions are to serve this College and its members with the values that make us who we are as a global community of caring healthcare professionals.
I take pride in the two mottos on our College coat of arms. On the base, the words “Non vivere sed valere vita”, from Martial’s Epigrams which in rough translation mean ‘not just to live but to have a healthy life”. At the top, “conjurat amice”, from the Roman poet Horace, which means ‘joined in friendship’. I extend that hand of friendship to each one of you. I believe there is great strength in our community of friendship and professionalism that spans different areas of healthcare and the globe – it is what sets us apart as a College.
Many of you will know that, in the UK, we are the only Royal College that brings physicians, surgeons, dental professionals, travel medicine specialists and podiatrists together to share learning. We achieve this while also working with the other Royal Colleges and organisations to develop and deliver more specialised education, assessment and professional opportunities within the different disciplines of healthcare that we represent.
30 YEARS OF COLLEGE LIFE
When former President Jackie Taylor handed over the President’s medal to me at the AGM in December of last year, it not only marked the beginning of my term as President but also marked exactly 30 years to the day since I was first admitted to the College as a Fellow on 3 December 1991. I have been grateful to the College at many times throughout my career for the support I have received to enable me to progress through training and assessment, and have been able to give back through teaching, examining, and other professional duties including as Regional Councillor (2005-2013), Vice President (Surgical) (2013-2016) and Director of Global Health (2017-2020).
In 2005, Nelson Mandela said, “As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest… overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice.” This statement still rings true, and I believe we have the ability and the power through our collective voice to take steps to improve equity in health and healthcare by embracing a culture of global citizenship that supports international partnerships in health with mutual benefits. The College’s leading role in this area, particularly working with Scottish Government colleagues, is something we can all be proud of.
The Covid pandemic has highlighted some of the greatest strengths and weaknesses of global health. The rapid mobilisation of services, introduction of treatment regimes, research collaboration and the development of vaccines have demonstrated the great strengths of the international scientific and medical communities. In contrast, the disparity in vaccination rates between higher and lower income countries has starkly illustrated the inequalities between nations. None of us will truly have protection from Covid until the whole world is vaccinated and so there is now an urgent need to consider new approaches which focus on equity.
CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTING HEALTH INEQUALITY
The climate crisis is another stark example of global inequality. It is those who have contributed least to the problem who are now bearing the worst of it, with consequences for health and mass migration. In September last year, our College joined with more than 400 health organisations around the world in support of a letter delivered to the COP26 Presidency which called on wealthier nations to do more to ensure a just transition to climate change mitigation and adaptation for the benefit of all our health. We will continue to work in this area and use our College voice to speak out on climate change and sustainability.
In my first month as President, I was able to travel to Egypt with College colleagues to strengthen our bonds and partnerships there. The visit was an excellent example of the benefits there are from working together in friendship to improve training and education and ultimately patient care.
Over the coming years, I look forward to reaching out, engaging and, I hope, meeting in person with many of you across our College community.
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Key priority areas
- Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
- Climate Change
- Health Inequalities
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