Greetings from a cold Geneva
The first one and a half day of the WHOs Executive Board Meeting have been very intense for IFMSAs delegation. Before going into some specifics let me explain what the WHOs Executive Board is, the WHO EB as it is also called is composed of 34 individuals technically qualified in the field of health, each one designated by a Member State elected to do so by the World Health Assembly. The Board members are selected for a 3 year period. The WHO EB is the body who selects and proposes the topics and resolutions that are put on the agenda for the World Health Assembly. This year, the WHO EB has an extremely long and packed agenda, amongst other things it will discuss WHO reform; noncommunicable diseases; promoting health through the life course; preparedness, surveillance and response; communicable diseases and health systems.
Myself, Roopa and Chantelle are representing IFMSA in this meeting, and we have been working on drafting specific statements on different agenda items. Given that IFMSA is in official relation with WHO, we are allowed to speak during the governing body meetings.
Today IFMSA will speak for the first time in this meeting on Social Determinants of Health (SDH) and the progress since the political declaration on SDH. You will find below that we are glad to see the progress, but are still critical on some issues. Enjoy the reading, and please make sure to comment if you have any!
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Until next time!
IFMSA statement on Social Determinants of Health Agenda Point 7.3
IFMSA would like to acknowledge the work of WHO in supporting member states with the
implementation of the Rio Political Declaration. It is also pleasing to see the commitment from the WHO Regional Offices in this effort. Beside this, we also welcome the engagement with other UN bodies on highlighting health in all policies approach. However we are still compelled to point out that one of the three overarching recommendations of The WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health is to “Tackle the inequitable distribution of power, money and resources”. It is perhaps strange to see that the report does not identify the root causes for health inequities and also fails to deliver on a concrete action to address these causes.
We recognize that changing and defeating inequalities worldwide is a challenging effort, partly due to the inequitable distribution of power and wealth at the international level. Action on social determinants of health will require substantial funding and therefore it is essential that members states and the WHO work for innovative funding schemes that will propel reduce the inequality gap.
As early as now, young people need to be made to understand the principles of equity and
social determinants. This will not only provide an avenue for smooth transfer of knowledge to but eventually ensure the sustainability of this global movement. Youth today has the sheer capacity to effect positive change, a capacity that remains largely untapped. With their innate energy, fresh vision, and advanced grasp of technology, young people, who will be inheritors of global health sooner rather than later, can largely and meaningfully contribute in advancing the movement for “health and equity for all.”
We would like to end with the words of the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health
- “reducing health inequity is an ethical imperative. Social injustice is killing people on a