Workshop 08: Activism in Medicine: Practice and Challenges
Thursday, March 21, 2019 at 04:45 PM – 05:30 PM on Workshop Room A
Facilitators: Dr. Khairat Al Habbal

Background: Activism is defined as doing action for a cause going beyond what is conventional. Health activism implicates challenging an existing situation that has led to a kind of social injustice or health inequality. It comprises a broad array of tactics varying according to the situation and circumstances. Hence, health activism is a successful strategy to create pressure on perpetrators of social inequality in certain health issues. However, health activism is not without challenges. Physicians and healthcare workers who are activists may be challenged by political or economic conflicts, healthcare systems, and a number of other challenges that differ according to the country and common health issues.


  1. Define activism and contextualize it through real life examples
  2. Recognize the importance of activism in medicine
  3. Identify the barriers/challenges to being activist in medicine
  4. Recognize the role of family physicians in enhancing the concept of activism.

Session Description:

  1. Introductory presentation
  2. Activism, everyone’s business
  • The experience of academics teaching social medicine
  • Responding to urgent needs of refugees: the mobile clinics
  • Developing system thinking: stepping outside the clinic and engaging with partners in healthcare delivery
  1. Discussion in groups

Participants will be divided and each group with one facilitator will discuss one of the following perspectives related to activism in medicine

  • Importance of the concept of activism in medicine
  • Role of academicians in enhancing activism in medicine
  • Barriers/Challenges faced by physicians/residents in being activists
  • Sharing experiences and examples from real-life
  1. Briefing of discussions by all groups
  2. Summing up

Conclusion: Health activism is everyday and everyone business. Whether incremental or radical, activism brings healthy change to health systems and societies.