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Semmelweis University, celebrating its 250th anniversary starting later this year, was the host of this year’s National Touristic Meeting of University and College Students (EFOTT) 2019 festival. As a host, the University worked hard to organize fun and valuable programs centered around disease prevention and health promotion. We had the opportunity to interview Dr. Magor Papp, director of the newly established Semmelweis Health Promotion Center and Tamás Hegedüs, president of the Semmelweis Students’ Union to learn more about the programs offered to festivalgoers, and about how hard Semmelweis University students and workers were working to make this year’s EFOTT festival the healthiest yet.

Thank you, Magor for taking time to speak with us. Can you please tell us a little bit more about the screening buses that are currently at the festival?

We currently have 2 screening buses at the festival, thanks to a joint cooperation between Semmelweis University and the National Public Health Center. We have three screening rooms on each bus operating simultaneously. Dental screenings happen in two of the rooms, as well as oral mucosal screenings, and in the other two we have lifestyle screenings, as well as a full body composition analysis, where we can give festivalgoers quite an in-depth breakdown and analysis of their weight in terms of percent muscle, fat, and water and show them what percentile they fall into. We also measure blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol. 

In case of smokers, we conduct an exhaled carbon monoxide test, which is very important because their exhaled carbon monoxide levels can reach up to 10 or 20 times that of an average, healthy, non-smoking individual. This difference in carbon monoxide levels is quite significant if we think about the fact that carbon monoxide has a high affinity for hemoglobin, the main oxygen-carrying compound in the blood; it can have a major negative effect on the distribution of oxygen throughout the body if someone is a heavy smoker. Additionally, based on the individual’s full body composition report, we offer nutrition and exercise advice to the festivalgoers.

We also receive ad hoc screening requests in addition to the ones I mentioned; if someone has a suspicious mole, we can do a melanoma screening test for them. As there is quite a broad spectrum of conductible screening examinations, we really tried to compile our screening portfolio with the festivalgoers’ priorities and values in mind – we perform screenings that we thought would provide interesting, valuable feedback about their personal health.

It’s really important to mention that many university associations are working together to perform these screenings – in addition to the association that already carries out frequent prevention activities, the Semmelweis Students’ Union, the Semmelweis Health Promotion Center, the Budapest Medical Students’ Association and the Hungarian Association of Dental Students are working together. This is great because it allows current students and already graduated field experts to work jointly – providing students with the opportunity to gain valuable work experience, while field experts can ensure the screenings and related advice in accordance with professional standards. I can say quite confidently that these screenings have been a success so far, judging from the lineup of festivalgoers, especially for the full body composition analysis and the oral mucosal screenings. These types of tests aren’t that easily accessible in our daily life, so I think this is a good feedback opportunity for them about a healthier lifestyle.

We can tell that it’s quite a popular station – is it the first time this type of service has been offered at the EFOTT Festival?

Yes, this is the first time screening buses have been present.  We are also offering the broadest spectrum of screening examinations to festivalgoers that any festival in Hungary, EFOTT or other, has seen; this is just another reason to emphasize that this year’s EFOTT festival is the healthiest and most athletic festival and we are hoping that we can make this a tradition on the festivals, as well as on other platforms for the increased promotion of healthy living.

Speaking of athletics, we heard that there are sporting programs available at the festival as well.

Correct, thanks to the Semmelweis Students’ Union, 35 different sporting programs are available at the festival. These help promote movement side of a healthy lifestyle to festivalgoers. 

We then asked Tamás Hegedüs, president of the Students’ Union, to weigh in on the rest of Semmelweis University’s available programs at the festival.

Tamás, we know the Semmelweis Students’ Union has played an important role in the organization of the festival. Aside from the screening buses, what are some of the other festival programs the Semmelweis Students’ Union is involved in during the festivities?

The EFOTT festival activities that the Semmelweis Students’ Union, as well as the whole Semmelweis University is involved with are made of a few main pillars: the first, as Magor explained, are the screening buses where a variety of screenings are available. Additionally, there was a blood drive held on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday where we encouraged everyone to participate, as we think donating blood is extremely important. We also had a “Semmelweis University 250” Dome on location, which we named in celebration of the University’s upcoming 250th anniversary, where we have a variety of speakers discussing topics related to their specific expertise. Among others, we have had Balázs Sebestyén as well Dr. Hunor Novák, Dr. Gábor Zacher, and Dr. Krisztina Hevesi. It is also where the official festival opening ceremony was held, as well as panel discussions on youth policy, travel, and other interesting topics.

There is also a sport pillar, with the highlight event being organization of the EFOTT water polo tournament. Also exciting to note are the university/high school championship games in both beach volleyball and handball are also a part of the sport pillar.

We are also responsible for the “Emergency Care” bar where we have themed drinks and decorations, and there is a music stage for Semmelweis DJs to perform. It’s been an amazing experience – our student DJs have had the opportunity to play in front of hundreds of their peers. It is definitely a memory that will last a lifetime.

Faye Gillespie
Photo: Judit Vadlövő and Bálint Barta – Semmelweis University Students’ Union

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