Day 5, 24th of May, Friday
After the usual morning briefing at 8:30 am, the delegation of IFMSA split into three groups in order to visit the three parallel running events.
Most of the delegates attended the meeting, called Committee B, because the topics discussed there were very relevant for us, and the delegation also prepared some statements according to these issues during the pre-World Health Assembly. The main item was the „Health systems” which included several subtopics. After the introduction of the topics the delegates of the countries expressed their perspective and opinion and then the floor was given to the non-governmental organizations including IFMSA. Our statements on the following issues were represented by:
- “Universal health coverage” (UHC) – Elizabeth Wiley (AMSA-USA Immediate Past President)
- “Follow up of the report of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination” – Anna Rasmussen (IMCC Denmark, European Coordinator on Access to Essential Medicine-Universities Allied for Essential Medicine)
- “The health workforce: advances in responding to shortages and migration, and in preparing for emerging needs” – Ramon Lorenzo Luis Rosa Guinto, MD (Liasion Officer to WHO, IFMSA)
Photo: Liz Wiley (left), Anna Rasmussan (middle) and Renzo Giunto (right) presenting statements in Committee B
There was also a detailed and interesting discussion about the “Substandard/spurious/falsely-labeled/falsified/counterfeit medical products” in this Committee. The speaking national delegates agreed on the danger of such products in the developed and developing world as well and on the need of urgent act. From the student civil society side the International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF) presented its intervention expressing the willingness of contribution towards patients’ safety as the highest priority especially through activities raising the awareness against these types of products.
Afterwards the time of the different side events came. There was a great deal of options:
- “Public-Private Partnership in Afghanistan’s hospital sector”
- “Maternal and child health: Millennium Development Goals and beyond”
- “Physical activity, sport and health”
- “New medications for NTDs, tuberculosis and malaria: a new initiative”
Personally I went to the “Maternal and child health” event, which turned to be a very interesting discussion among the five panelists in front of a huge audience. First on the agenda was the analysis of the Millennium Development Goals already existing achievements, such as the reduced number of maternal and child mortality. The reduction must be further continued though, because for example the number of perinatal complications still remains high. Under the Universal Health Coverage access to maternal health care has to be improved as well. The main tools to intervene are; family planning, utilizing quality of obstetrical care, moderate cultural issues such as early, forced marriage and ensuring equality and equity. The new perspective of the matter also has to focus on non-communicable diseases as maternal risk factors and consider recent epidemiological and demographical changes. The participants all agreed, that millions of women’s’ and children’s’ lives rely on these acts, so the MDGs must be accomplished and carried on.
Meeting with Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe
During the afternoon another meeting took place in the Serpentine Restaurant between IFMSA (represented by Roopa Dhatt, President of IFMSA and Kitti Horvath, SCOPH Director of IFMSA) and the WHO Regional Director for Europe, Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab. Ms Jakab seemed to be very interested in youth activity and involvement in the field of health isues. We had the chance to present the profile of IFMSA, what our mission and goals are and how we try to reach them on a local, national and also global level. Thanks to the Pre-WHA, the IFMSA delegation was more active during the WHA, than ever before, which was recognized by Ms Jakab as well. She agreed on building a stronger relationship between the two organizations, which she will support by setting up new contacts for IFMSA within the European and the general office of WHO. Ms Jakab offered us to advocate for a more extensive youth representation within the national delegations, which would help IFMSA to create better networks with the WHO Member States.
Photo: Ms. Zsuzsanna Jakab (middle), Roopa Dhatt (right) and Kitti Horvath (left) after a productive discussion about a stronger collaboration between WHO Europe and IFMSA
“Transforming Health Workforce Education in Support of the Universal Health Coverage”
In the meantime a new draft resolution was proposed by Thailand and supported by several further countries. This resolution addresses the leadership of WHO and the WHO Member States to act urgently in order to develop and adopt a standard protocol for the transformation of the health workforce education. IFMSA was invited to further discussions of the countries’ delegations and under the direction of Agostinho Sousa (Liasion Officer to Medical Education, IFMSA) expressed its interest in this matter. The education of medical students plays a huge role in the core activity of IFMSA, this way our contribution can be very relevant and also innovative. Due to this perspective the draft resolution could be improved towards a stronger youth involvement. The upcoming days will give the chance for every IFMSA delegate at the WHA to work for this goal and reach as many national delegations as possible.
Working at WHO
Before heading off of the conference, IFMSA had an informal meeting (organized by Ilse Ramírez and Sergio Menchaca from IFMSA-Mexico) with a well-experienced lady from Mexico who has been working at the WHO Headquarters for many years. She gave us very useful information about how medical students can join the activity of WHO as an intern, a researcher or a volunteer at national and international offices of the Organization. She also presented possible options how to become a future employee and what the main tasks and commitments are in the different positions. Information will be shared with all IFMSA members soon.
The 5th day of the WHA seemed to be very-very long, maybe because it was already the 5th day, maybe because we had many tasks one after the other, maybe because only the lucky ones had the chance to grab a sandwich or a coffee during the day J. But it was a very effective and productive day, keeping the whole delegation busy. After each event we had the chance to communicate and set up new networks with health officers, NGO leaders and student delegates. We received many acknowledgments from different delegates related to the great side event that was organized by IFMSA the previous day and every time more and more participants of the 3000 people walking around the Palace of Nations greeted us on the hallway. But “the show must go on”, so after the dinner we spent together, thoughts were already directed towards the 6th day’s challenges and plans…
Photo: biggest IFMSA delegation ever at the 66th WHA
Director of the Standing Committee on Public Health, IFMSA