IFMSA Blog Post: 146th WHO Executive Board Meeting

The WHO  Executive Board (EB) comprises 34 technical experts from member states, who meet at least twice a year, usually for a one-week meeting at the end of January/beginning of February and a shorter second meeting after the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May. Also present at the meeting are other member states, representatives of UN agencies and non-state actors. 

Between February 3rd-8th, 2020, ten IFMSA delegates attended this year’s EB Meeting under the lead of our LWHO, Katja Čič. Our delegation was representative of different regions and was balanced in terms of gender and experience levels. Besides medical students, the IFMSA delegation also included global health advocates with a background in public health, dentistry,and veterinary medicine. The IFMSA delegation split its advocacy efforts into four different advocacy working groups along the relevant agenda items; these were: Universal Health Coverage (UHC), Communicable Diseases (including PHEIC), Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and Global Health & Governance Issues. 

The IFMSA delegation comprised of:

  • Katja Čič, IFMSA Liaison Officer to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Head of Delegation;
  • Tarek Ezzine, Vice-President for External Affairs (VPE);
  • Iza Korpar, PreWHA 2020 Organizing Committee Chair (SloMSIC Slovenia);
  • Mathew Siu Chun Chow, Asia-Pacific General Assistant (AMSAHK, Hong Kong, China);
  • Utku Timurçin, Program Coordinator for Medical Education Systems (TurkMSIC Turkey);
  • Laura Jung (bvmd Germany);
  • Iris Martine Blom (IFMSA-NL, The Netherlands);
  • Li Han Wong (SfGH United Kingdom);
  • Asiman Hadizada (AzerMDS Azerbaijan);
  • Simon Krückemeier, IVSA Secretary of External Relations Officer and Development Fund (Germany);
  • Ali Abdulhussein Dheyab Al-Zuhairi, IADS External Relations Chairman (Iraq)

Below is a short outline of our delegation’s main activities: 

In total, our delegation delivered 9 statements on the topics of Primary Health Care, UHC, the High-Level Meeting on prevention and control of NCDs, the Global Vaccine Action Plan, Ending Tuberculosis, Health Emergencies, the Decade of Healthy Ageing, the Global Strategy on Digital Health as well as the Involvement of Non-State Actors at WHO. 

Our engagement in plenary through statements encompassed important agenda items that correspond to IFMSA’s work, Global Priorities and Policy Documents. With statements, we highlighted the important role of youth in healthcare, not only in the implementation but also in the design of health policies. Several of our statements were also supported or co-authored by our partner organizations, International Veterinary Students’ Association (IVSA) and International Association of Dental Students (IADS). 

The IFMSA delegation actively contributed to two side events. Firstly, the Launch of the Report on Youth and Decent work in the Health Social Care Sector, prepared by the Youth Hub of WHO’s Global Health Workforce Network (GHWN), where IFMSA was also one of the hosting organizations and was included in the line of speakers. And secondly, the NGO consultation of the Alliance for Health Promotion on the topic “Working with youth, through youth, for youth as a key population”.

In a meeting with youth delegates and Diah Saminarsih, the WHO’s Senior Adviser on Youth and Gender to the Director-General, we explored options to increase meaningful and sustainable youth participation in global health, as well as to further support youth delegate programs. We also planned the way forward when it comes to collaboration between IFMSA and WHO on the topic of meaningful youth participation and conducted several consultations with member states to discuss youth engagement strategies.

In addition, we had the opportunity to attend technical briefings, one on the current coronavirus (now COVID-19) outbreak and the other on electronic nicotine delivery/vaping systems. 

Our LWHO and VPE also used the opportunity to conduct several meetings with important partners and established plans for future collaborations, partnerships, and opportunities.

Besides that, they also followed up on the IFMSA members currently interning at different organizations in Geneva and gathered valuable input regarding the newly established processes within WHO and WMA.

Of course, we also took the time to explore Geneva outside of our WHO activities. One thing we made sure not to miss was the classic cheese fondue! 

While the Executive Board Meeting is now over,  the work towards a successful 73rd World Health Assembly has only just begun. We hope to continue our work with WHO and the youth delegates over the coming months to strengthen meaningful and diverse youth engagement in global health. 

See you soon! 

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