Youth Delegate Programs to the WHO

IFMSA has long had relationships with the WHO as a Non-State Actor (actually, since this became a possibility in 1969) and has taken the lead as one of the very few organization representing the Youth interested in changing Global health.

However, it is only through the inclusion  of Youth Delegates in Member State’s official delegations that young people’s perspective will be fully taken into account, with access to influencing the management of a country’s position – something that is taken care of in preparation meetings, informal negotiations, statement delivery and any other kind of tasks of a member state’s delegation.

Benefits of Adopting Youth Delegate Programs

For the Youth

Opportunity to become more engaged and informed in political issues, and an insight into negotiations.
Involve a wider youth constituency in global health decision-making and communicating the reasoning behind governmental decisions to young people.
Experience international diplomacy at the highest level whilst developing essential skills and the self- confidence to flourish in these environments.
Opportunity to engage positively with other youth advocates from around the world.
Creation of civic role models for other young people to participate more fully in their nation’s development as concerned citizens.

For the Member State

Opportunity to engage with the youth perspective on global health issues and incorporate this into the member state’s positions on issues facing young people.
Assistance in meetings, briefings.
Youth can be a crucial source of soft power and international influence, promoting democratic values, creativity, and idealism.
Provide sustainability by preparing young people for future careers in civil service.
The existence of a national YDP or position is a concrete demonstration by the respective Government of their commitment to young people.

Milestones and Endorsements from the UN and WHO

Interestingly, not only do the Member States and the Youth benefit from the inclusion of Youth Delegates! Here are some relevant milestones in UN and WHO’s acknowledgement, who have formally endorsed and pushed for this change:

“Include Youth Representatives in their national delegations to the General Assembly and other relevant United Nations meetings, thus enhancing and strengthening the channels of communication through the discussion of youth-related issues, with a view to finding solutions to the problems confronting youth in the contemporary world.”, UN General Assembly – World Program of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond

“The World Health Organization encourages Member States to include youth in their national delegations to the World Health Assembly.”, World Health Organization, 2018

And then, very recently and very clearly, Youth Delegate Programs had the strongest endorsement possible at the opening remarks of the WHO Director General at the 2023 WHO Executive Board Meeting (152nd Session):

So, the current standing point is: We want it. We are officially endorsed to go after it.

As such, the question remaining is: What to do now?

As IFMSA has been taking a lead in these advocacy efforts, we organize ourselves in a way the NMOs take under their responsibility the actual advocacy work with their governments, while IFMSA strives to provide in the best way possible, relevant resources and guidance whenever needed.


The 101, the “Best Buy”, the “Go For” document in case you’re just getting started on this topic and have never advocated for the creation of a Youth Delegate Program in your country.

After reading this you’ll understand how to start this process, what struggles you’re expected to find and what can IFMSA provide you along the way,

This tool has been created just this year and fulfills two main purposed. Firstly, it helps you pick aspects from already running YDP, so that you can create your own proposal to your Government in concrete terms. Secondly, it helps your government understand that these programs have existed successfully in many countries for many years.