66th World Health Assembly – Day 4 & 5

Dear IFMSA friends,

The discussions and decisions taken by the 194 member states during the annual World Health Assembly influence the health strategies globally, nationally and in local communities from all over the world.

More and more the voice of health care students is being heard by high level health care decision makers due to all of the hard work of medical students across our federation.

The IFMSA delegation has been working continuously, and the speed at which things happen here in Geneva leaves only little time for a live update but we are still keen on bringing WHA closer to you. WHA is one of the main centers of decision making and we are thrilled to see every student from the delegation engaging and having a meaningful participation at the World Health Assembly.

Discussions are now being centered on promoting health through the life course, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), communicable diseases and health systems. Reporting, draft action plans, follow-ups, and frameworks are being done, and discussion and advocacy continuously happen. IFMSA, proving its will to have an active role on this assembly, has had the opportunity to read statements on Human Resources in Health, post-2015 Agenda, Universal Health Care, and Non-communicable Diseases, documents soon to be shared.

In between many tasks, remarkable side events and meetings continue to happen. These are the best moments to advocate and participate to discussion, and IFMSA delegates have had the opportunity to attend more than 20 different events.

Patient Safety
Patient engagement in medication safety

Yesterday evening, we attended the launch of the WHO Global Alliance for Care of the Injured organized by the Goverments of Brazil, Mozambique, Romania,Thailand and the WHO Secretariat. Luisa Baca, SCOME Director: “ We [IFMSA] salute the formation of this Global Alliance and we advocate for extracurricular training in emergency medicine for medical students. Our formal training in most medical schools around the world is missing acutely the practical experience with real patients. (…) in a proper setting, with minimum financial investment in the training of students and the trauma team, medical and nursing students can be important and reliable players in the care of the injured.

From care of the injured and many other side events and Committees A and B meetings, day 4th brought then in the  morning numerous events addressing patient engagement in medication safety, health in all policies: the Mina Mata Convention on Mercury, and the DREAM program on HIV.

Day 4th of the 66th World Health Assembly, May 23rd, 2013 is a historical day for IFMSA presence at WHO meetings.. The IFMSA delegation has hosted in the afternoon the first youth organized and youth-led side event at the World Health Assembly.

Health of the World’s girls – The missing link in the global development agenda?
Hollie Kluczewski, IFMSA and Medsin UK, was the chairman of the meeting. She addressed from the beginning the importance of the issue:
“Often within global health we take adolescent girls for granted, but we need to acknowledge that beyond being children and before they are mothers, they are girls, with their own specific health and social needs. They deserve our undivided attention.

Currently we have a global health community assuming they are addressing girls needs with maternal health programs and we have a development community thinking they are acting for girls development without fully considering their health.  We need to bring these two paradigms together, and truly embrace health as a tool for enabling girls to reach their development potential.

The dynamic panellists were: Helga Fogtad of the Norwegian Agency for Development, Luc de Bernis of UNFPA, Warugura Wanjau of the MILEAD fellows program, Jane Ferguson of WHO and Roopa Dhatt – IFMSA President.
Roopa made a strong statement on how IFMSA achieves meaningful participation for girls.  “Comprehensive sexuality education is essential for educating and empowering both girls and boys about their sexual and reproductive health. It’s views sexuality holistically and goes far beyond a biomedical approach. The IFMSA recognises the IPPF seven key elements of a comprehensive sexuality education program, which are:
1- Sexual and reproductive health incl. STIs & HIV
2- Relationships
3- Pleasure
4- Gender
5- Violence
6- Diversity
7- Sexual rights and citizenship

This broad and encompassing approach recognizes that gender roles are at the core of a girl’s relationships, sexual experiences and ultimately her health. This approach has the additional benefit of educating boys about gender norms, which is essential because gender equality will never exist until girls and boys work together to address damaging gender norms.

IFMSA works towards a world in which every young person receives a truly comprehensive sexuality education, we do this on three levels: locally, nationally and internationally (…)”.

IFMSA Side Event: Health of the world’s girls (from five years of age through adolescence) – the missing
link in the global development agenda?

Meanwhile, Agostinho and Pedro attended a meeting on Transformative Human Resources in Health professional education. This was the beginning of one of the, yet to come, major outcomes of the WHA, as the delegation of Thailand, organiser of the meeting, published, the next morning, a draft resolution on “Transforming Health Workforce Education in Support of the Universal Health Coverage”. Engaged on this discussion, ideas were debated, statements were written, and delegations were addressed. This resolution targets all the main issues on which IFMSA delegation had been working: quality of health worker’s training as a priority (instead of simply increasing quantity), importance of addressing migration, involvement of all stakeholders, including students, on the discussion, conduction of a comprehensive assessment of the current situation of health workforce education, creation of a standard protocol and tool for assessment. The resolution’s final approval is only due Tuesday, but members of the IFMSA delegation, including Roopa, Agostinho, Renzo, Pedro and Gugu are able to have an active participation in the elaboration of the resolution, ensuring that students voice is being heard

Throughout Day 5, discussion continued to take place, and we continued to strike towards our goals. As agenda in Committee A evolved, some other side events took place. Maternal and Child Health, Physical Activity, Sports and Health, and me medications for NTDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria were all addressed during the morning.

Work will continue, and IFMSA’s motivation to keep engaged on all discussions is immense. WHA is coming to its end, but many decisions are yet to be made, resolutions to be approved, and action plans two be drawn. Therefore, the following days will indeed be crucial to ensure that we had a meaningful participation at the WHA and that change can and does happen!


Delegation photo
66º WHA – IFMSA Delegation


Luisa Georgiana Baca

Pedro Correia de Miranda
PorMSIC – Portuguese Medical Students International Committee

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