Reflections from day 2 of IFMSA’s Pre World Health Assembly 2014

The second working day of the IFMSA pre-World Health assembly starts early with more sessions and small working group discussions to prepare the youth participants for their advocacy plans during the WHA. Graham Lister, Senior Fellow of Global Health Programme, The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies gives an insight on what we should think of when proposing an advocacy plan saying: Advocacy is not something you do during the week, its part of the ongoing agenda of your organization


Over the course of the morning sessions, the youth participants have split into the four main working streams: Post 2015 & Universal Health Coverage, Non-Communicable Diseases, Access to Essential Medicine, and Youth Engagement & Adolescent Health. Each stream worked to find out the key stakeholders relevant to their stream, discussing their power, legitimacy, and interests in order to finalize a draft advocacy strategy that includes a campaign message and a list of contacts and communication channels that would be established in the World Health Assembly. Furthermore, each small working group also tackled how we as youth could be influential through specifying specific roles and outcomes to be achieved

After lunch ,, The youth participants joined the panel on Adolescent Health and meaningful Youth Participation . Jane Ferguson from the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health of the World Health Organization talked about the adolescent health reports mentioning how IFMSA contributed and formally thanking IFMSA for its effort and contribution in this process

Michael Wong from the The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) also talked about the MDGs and the post-2015 process and how youth are involved in it .

Ivens Reis Reyner, from the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights follows with his experience as a youth advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Ivens explains the obstacles he experiences in youth advocacy saying :

“It can be also really frustrating. I’ve been working on international advocacy for 5 years, and sometimes you just want to cry. You are not making up. You’re bringing up discussions over and over and its not working. But we have to look at the big picture. Young people in 1994 were considered for the first time at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. Currently, you can see the PMNCH approaching youth organizations to gather impact. Let’s look at the bright picture, something is changing, we have funds to be here in the WHA, that’s because something changed. Let’s not get stuck in youth involvement, we need to go beyond, what is next? “


Finally , Mikaela Hildebrand the Youth Program Coordinator at UNAIDS talks about how youth are involved in UNAIDS and the challenges of that stating : A lot of the work we do in UNAIDS comes from the frustration that youth participation has been done at the UN in a bad way in the past. There were many people who wanted to work with young people but not everyone knows how to do that well, it has been a learning curve for us.
The second working day ended with a very rich session on post-2015 agenda and universal health coverage with a panel consisting of :

Dr Josko Mise, President, International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations

Dr Maria Neira, Director, Public Health and the Environment Department, World Health Organisation

Dr David Evans , Director of the Department of Health Systems Financing , World Health Organization

Peter Mamacos, Director, Office of Multilateral Affairs, US Department of Health and Human Services

Robert Martin, Senior Program Associate, The Rockefeller Foundation

Chris Collins, Chief of the Community Mobilization Division (CMB) at UNAIDS


The panel started with Josko explaining a bit the idea of the MDGs and the SDGs as well as the concept of the youth PreWHA followed by the other panel speakers who expanded on universal health coverage, Post-2015 Health issues, obstacles, and challenges, and how youth can be influential and innovative in the decision making process .The panel ended with Josko Mise motivating the youth saying: “Be unrealistic, visionary and naive!”

Ahmad Badr Mesbah

Organizing Committee – IFMSA youth pre world health assembly

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