WHO Europe Regional Committee – Day 2

Another day has passed and once again the IFMSA delegation had a blast at the 66th session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for Europe (RC66) in Copenhagen, Denmark.

We started our day together with the other NGOs, where we joined our statements in order to have a more clear and stronger voice when advocating for better health. The first statement about Health in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its relation to Health 2020 was delivered in the morning. Together with 5 other NGOs, IFMSA advocated for taking into account the health needs for vulnerable and marginalised populations in the creation of national and regional indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals, and the importance of integrating sustainable development into health curriculum.

Furthermore the member states discussed how to strengthen people-centred health systems in the WHO European Region and transforming the European framework for action on integrated health services delivery, where IFMSA supported a statement by Medicus Mundi International about the importance of investing on health workforce and to follow up on the conclusions of the Joint Action on Health Workforce and the WHO Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030.

A lunchtime technical briefing on Access to New High-Priced Medicines was delivered by five member states, and the director of healthcare of the pharmaceutical associations. The heated debate included the urge for an alternative R&D approach for the innovation of new medicines, while building an open-collaborative approach between governments and pharma, and finally the need for cross-national policies and strategies to assure fair access to medicines across Europe. WHO informed us that they are working towards an access to medicines strategy for the near future.

In the afternoon, we took part of the discussions about the strategy and action plan for refugee and migrant health in the WHO European Region. During the day, IFMSA made the Twitter campaign #SafetyFirst, in order to highlight the importance of ensuring safe routes for migrants and refugees and minimizing health risks while in transit or detention. Furthermore, we delivered a statement about refugees and migrant health with 8 supporting NGOs

and to the action plan for sexual and reproductive health, with a focus on proper follow-up, empowerment of the health workforce and access to safe and legal abortion.

The most controversial agenda item of the day was the adoption of a strategy for Sexual and Reproductive Health. Several countries had a strong pushback towards language around sexual rights, references towards international human right treaties and several aspects of the strategy. Other countries took an opposite approach and expressed their disappointment that the language in the strategy was not even stronger around sexual and reproductive health and rights. IFMSA delivered a statement focusing on the importance of proper follow-up, empowerment of the health workforce and access to safe and legal abortion.

It has been a fun and productive day for the delegation, with many opportunities to advocate on behalf of the federation. During the next days, we will continue this work by joining forces with other NGOs to address Non-Communicable Diseases.

Follow our work on twitter by using the meeting hashtag – #RC66.

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