Updates from PreWHA Day 1

I want to say that none of us back in 1951 could have imagined that our initiative would stand the test of time to become a natural part of environment of medical students all over the world.

Those were the words of Prof. Erik Holst, founding president of the IFMSA. His words are still resonating more than 50 years after IFMSA was founded, as 50 young healthcare students from all over the world are gathering in Geneva for the pre World Health Assembly (WHA) Workshop, organized by the IFMSA with support from the Global Health Centre of the Graduate Institute Geneva and the Global Health Workforce Alliance. This workshop aims to empower youth and give them essential advocacy and external representation skills needed to be health advocates and better raise the voice of youth on global health issues covered during the upcoming 69th WHA.

The workshop involved a combination of keynote addresses, expert panels and small working groups on 4 important WHA topics: Nutrition and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Substandard, Spurious, Falsely-labelled, Falsified and Counterfeit (SSFFC) medical products. Throughout the first day we had an inspiring speech by the first keynote speaker, Dr. Ruediger Krech, Director of the Department of Ethics and Social Determinants of Health at the World Health Organization, who spoke about his experience in global health and hot topics of the upcoming WHA.

He inspired us by showing us how taking risks and going for what we believe in could pay off in the end. This was followed the next day by an introduction to Global Health Diplomacy by Michaela Told, Director of Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute Geneva and Baher and Basem, two Egyptian youth delegates involved in global health. We talked about global health definitions, WHA functioning and basics of diplomacy, with an amazing definition of the art of negotiating: Negotiations should leave everyone equally unhappy. This was followed by an introduction to the different focus areas of the IFMSA delegation to the WHA.

At the end of the first day, every participant had a new perspective on each topic, which helped building a bigger picture and a sense of belonging in the whole delegation. Our motivation is definitely getting higher every second, but most importantly, we are more knowledgeable about the issues of the agenda, opportunities of interdisciplinary collaboration, and concrete ways to carry on our advocacy work.

Author: Amine Lotfi, WHA 69 delegate / PreWHA participant / IFMSA-Morocco / [email protected]

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