Emerging Voices Perspective at the 8th Global Conference on Health Promotion: Health in all Policies–Helsinki, Finland


Our vision for Health Promotion is ensuring that Health in all Policies (HiAP) is the way forward.

We want to take part in creating a world that collaborates across sectors to achieve the health and well being of all people.

I would like to begin by saying that, yes, that’s me–I am one of the flooders of the message board, but I promise to keep off twitter during this session.

Really thank-you to the organizers, Finland and the WHO for creating this space, as many of us felt engaged throughout this meeting because we were able to share our ideas and even have dialogue with the mother of health promotion.

I was invited here to represent my organization—the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, which collectively represents more than 1.3 million future healthcare professionals on all continents in over 100 countries.

I am therefore standing here today as voice of the youth, the voice of those who will one day be in your shoes, the voice of those who want to be a part of the decisions that are made today, in order to make this world more sustainable.

Before moving forward, I would like to briefly reflect

What truly resonated with us, the young voices, is that we should not be afraid of making mistakes and that our focus should be on learning, being creative and innovative as we strive for Health in all Policies, especially as we build bridges and collaborate with other sectors—the process will be challenging, requiring great commitment, as well as partnerships to address the obstacles of an uncharted territory, where social determinants of health, corporate interests and subversive politics, are the greatest offenders of health and well-being. 

We have to be bold, but bold together, with all the tools, including the bag of tricks,—to support a long-term action plan for HiAP.

Young people are agents of change in placing HiAP into action – and we want to join hands with you to move into a brighter, healthier future. I wanted to provide a few concrete examples of how we imagine ourselves as part of this process:

1. We’re great advocates—we are both creative, motivated, usually know about the latest gadgets and are unafraid of diving into unknown territory.

Just a three weeks ago, simultaneously to the world health assembly, there was another big event happening in Geneva—the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction 2013. For the first time in history IFMSA attended with a delegation at this UN-High Level Meeting. We had together with the governments, UN departments, parliamentary’s and NGOs attending a shared goal: A goal of improving health outcomes before, during and after emergencies and disasters. From the over 3500 participants at the Global Platform there were only three students, however by working together with the (WHO) delegation, we raised the fact that health is a human right and it is a nations and the international societies responsibility to ensure and needs to be a primary focus in a post-2015 disaster risk reduction framework.

We plan to worth with other youth groups to increase resilience in our communities.

We can push open windows of opportunities and gather political will for HiAP—through our youth networks and with our partners on increasing awareness and understanding for HiAP.  

2. We want to be further involved and lead by example

Within an enabling environment, young people can lay the foundation for further multi-sectorial collaboration.

Specifically, at our early stages of education and training, there is an opportunity to capacity build for leaders within the health and other sectors on a mindset which is systems oriented, more multi-disciplinary and able to process in an interconnected manner for better social, environmental and health outcomes.

E.g. We held a Pre-workshop for youth for the 66th WHA that brought together young people that are working on health issues from all disciplines to create a strategy on specific issues in order to be more effective during the WHA—by not only voicing our perspective, but also seeking out opportunities for direct input into the resolutions, reports and processes of the WHA.    During that time we had dialogue with different countries and learned about the process—reached out to every region.

3. We are furthering HiAP.

HiAP is something that is very close to our hearts as young students. IFMSA started working on advocacy and capacity building on the importance of addressing social determinants of health. We began with  passing a policy statement to guide our activities on SDH and then established an IFMSA Global Health Equity Initiative that conducts training for new SDH champions—we have trained more than 100 students on SDH. We also were present at the WC on SDH in Rio in 2001, where we circulated an alternative students’ perspective. We support initiatives of students on SDH, UHC, and HiaP is in our advocacy and educational priorities, as we support multi-sectoral collaboration.

We are able to use our knowledge, network and tools to evaluate and provide feedback to the HiAP process.

In closing, three main recommendations that I would have is:

1. Get young people involved in a meaningful, participatory way in every stage and level (global, regional, national, local) in your multi-sectorial work.

Whether it is the first dialogue that your government has with agriculture or education sector, having a young person on board not only builds capacity, but also their perspective might provide an innovative approach.

2. Provide young people the space to explore complex problems/issues, by challenging institutions and channeling research funding for focusing on more innovative, multi-disciplinary work.

3. Young people have vast networks and are often already exploring these issues—think about how you can create supportive partnerships with youth organizations.

Investing in young people is investing in a more sustainable future for health in all policies.


On behalf of the Young People at the 8GCHP!


Roopa Dhatt

IFMSA President 2012/13

Link to the video of Emerging Voices:

Emerging Voices at 8GCHP

Link to the Conference Statement: http://www.videonet.fi/who/20130614/2/Statement.pdf

Link to the live streaming record:


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