Educate, empower, inspire.

Since 1969, our global network of 1.3 million medical students from 122 countries has constructively engaged with the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure active youth participation and engagement in global health governance. The most significant opportunity for engagement is the World Health Assembly, the premier arena for global health discussions between member states and civil society.

As global health governance is a complex field, there is a need to provide high-quality training to youth, to strengthen their health advocacy efforts as they endeavor to represent the youth voice. The Youth Pre-World Health Assembly (Youth PreWHA) does exactly this. Held over 5 days prior to the World Health Assembly (WHA), it is a unique opportunity for 50 youth health advocates from all over the world to develop skills, gain knowledge, and contribute to collective advocacy.

The Youth PreWHA revolves around analyzing and exploring contemporary debates pertinent to the issues tabled in the agenda for the WHA. We also develop the necessary soft skills to be successful advocates in the global health arena. This allows participants to be critical thinkers and influential advocates at the WHA.

Hundreds of our students have participated in the PreWHA and have taken up positions as leaders in their respective fields. They have also joined civil and foreign service, taken up active roles in their national professional associations, and joined various NGOs and international organizations. Their impact on global health is inspiring and it is a privilege to be a part of their journey.

Since its inception in 2013, the three primary goals of the PreWHA have been:

  1. To provide a platform for youth, both young individuals and youth organizations, attending the annual World Health Assembly to prepare collectively and to harmonize their advocacy efforts in order to strengthen the voice of the youth by:
    1. Preparing a concrete joint strategy and working plan for the World Health Assembly (i.e. presenting joint interventions, targeting key stakeholders).
    2. Planning potential areas of collaboration and joint action beyond the World Health Assembly.
    3. Bringing home new connections with NGOs or country representatives that they can use for their national and local existing activities.
  2. To develop skills for advocacy, health care leadership, and policy engagement towards action on global health within participants. A report with all major conclusions and covered topics will be created so that youth are able to share this with their peers who had not had the opportunity to participate. The report aims to include many of the different perspectives that the participants brought to the table, and outcomes from various focused global health topic streams.
  3. To empower youth participants to take on further advocacy projects at the international, national or regional level, creating a snowball effect for youth education and empowerment in the world of global health.

In 2019, for the first time ever, students from low and middle income countries were able to attend the PreWHA and the 72nd World Health Assembly on a full scholarship sponsored by the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research. The Change-Maker Scholarship Program allowed young people with a passion for global health to see health decision-making at the highest level, without any financial barriers. You can find a full report of the Change-Maker Scholarship Program here.

For more information on IFMSA’s Youth PreWHA, please read the 2019 PreWHA Report here, and for more information on the IFMSA’s engagement at the World Health Assembly, please read the 72nd WHA Report here.

For further information, including partnership opportunities, please contact the  IFMSA Liaison Officer to the WHO on [email protected]

We would also like to thank our 2019 partners.