[WHA68] Statement on Health in Post-2015 Agenda

Statement made on May 20th 2015 during the 68th World Health Assembly on Item 14.2: Health in the post-2015 development agenda

IFMSA welcomes the report A68/14 and underlines the importance for the WHO to ensure this process is a priority in its action plan.

Considering that changing any goals at this point is extremely difficult, we ask the WHO to focus its attention on supporting the development of realistic targets and clear indicators, which will remain a main topic of discussions in the following months.

Considering Goal 3 of the proposed SDG, IFMSA notes the additional work is to be done for the targets to be finalized. We underline the ambitious targets such as eradicating Malaria and AIDS in the next 15 years, which will need the full commitment of WHO.

IFMSA expresses concerns about the risk of health to be siloed in Goal 3, instead of being considered as a transcendent pillar of the SDGs framework. We understand the importance of HiAP to achieve the SDG and the need to recognize health as a driver and outcome of sustainable development, and the underlying importance of the social determinants of health. Cross sectoral targets should be established. Measure progress in health is fundamental to this process, and should not be limited to progress made in Goal 3. 

IFMSA remarks the absence of several important health areas, such as recognizing primary health coverage and the importance of health literacy, patient centered care and patient empowerment. We believe this areas need independent targets.

IFMSA calls for a more active discussion on some of the present targets. As example, the proposed target 3.10.c, continues to underline the need to change from training to education of health workforce. IFMSA favors a change so that this target reflect a global problem, not only one of developing countries.

IFMSA commits to keep being involved in the SDG process, as we were proactively present in previous years event, such as Rio+20 and UN OWGs. This process is one of all of us. As stated in the proposed SDGs, let’s finally ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

[WHA68] You medical students are everywhere!

 IFMSA’s meaningful participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA)

This is my first time at the WHA. I’ve heard about it from IFMSA friends that have been, I’ve been preparing, I had an idea of what to expect, but I couldn’t wait to be here myself to witness this event, learn about its intricacies and actively take part in the process.

Leading up to the WHA, the IFMSA delegation has been preparing; reading on our subjects and exchanging ideas. Our preparation for the WHA culminated by the pre-WHA. Four priorities have been defined and we’ve worked hard in the four streams: Antimicrobial Resistance, Human Resources for Health, Adolescent Health and Climate Change and Health. During the pre-WHA, we’ve been writing briefs and statements, identifying stakeholders and strategies to advocate for our priorities. We’ve also had experienced panelists exchanging with us and briefing us, from the WHO, the Geneva Graduate Institute and the Global Health Workforce Alliance to name a few.

Our colleagues of dental medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacy and law, also joined us, uniting efforts to advocate for health and representing the voice of the youth. 

At the end of the pre-WHA, I remember thinking: How did people do it before? How was it possible to be ready for the WHA without this essential preparation? As the pre-WHA was ending, we felt the pressure and excitement boiling up, motivated by the passion of students and our profound conviction of advocating for the health of all. We were finally getting to the moment we were all waiting for: the WHA!

And then it all started! The opening ceremony, Angela Merkel’s opening speech, Margaret Chan’s address to the assembly, followed by the running around, the networking and catching side events, sometimes having headaches having to choose between too many interesting events happening at the same time.

The continuing hard work of the IFMSA in the last years has given us great opportunities for this year. IFMSA is now known and respected by many. Some of the IFMSA officials have been invited as panelists, notably Arthur Mello (Liaison Officer for Public Health Issues), and Meggie Mwoka (Regional Coordinator for Africa). They have greatly represented us.

Attending the WHA, I have the feeling that for a rare time, this is where discussions leading to real results happen. In comparison to other international, more academic conferences, this is where decisions are made. Our work here can have a meaningful impact.

I am learning tremendously every day, finding myself filling in all the pages of my notebook. We’ve had the chance of assisting to technical briefings on various subjects and challenge the audience with questions and expressing our views through statements. During the technical briefing on Sustainable Development Goals, PAHO’s director, Dr Carissa Etienne, highlighted the importance of social inclusion and the impact of inequities on health and called for the importance of high quality Universal Health Coverage in the Americas.

During the briefing on Climate Change and Health, IFMSA made a strong statement, calling upon countries to put health at the forefront of the climate agenda. We also heard the deputy mayor of Paris stressing the essential role cities can and must play to fight climate change and the health co-benefits that can be attained. Furthermore, Margaret Chan, WHO director general, reaffirmed that this is the defining issue of the 21st century. 

Ebola, as a major health event of the year has occupied a great place in the discussions. It is greatly inspiring that almost simultaneously, in to different events, representatives of the ministries of health of Liberia and Sierra Leone thanked the medical students for their participation in the response and for the Kick Ebola Out initiative.

We are having an impact here. Not only because we’ve been in the top 10 influence on Twitter for the last week using the #ywha hashtag, but also because of our active presence in sessions and side events. Magaret Chan even mentioned that we are everywhere and saluted our work.

My fellow colleagues also inspire me. Everyone in the IFMSA delegation is engaging with member states, meeting with their country’s delegation and seizing opportunities to meet with WHO actors and NGOs. It’s a great feeling to see young people from around the world joining forces, using their convictions, talent and determination to stand up for a better health for all.

As the WHA is already more than halfway through, we are doubling our efforts to wrap it up and attain our objectives. It doesn’t end at the WHA, the work done here will help IFMSA continue its work throughout the year advocating for health internationally and locally.

Entry written by Maxime Leroux-La Pierre, Member of the IFMSA delegation to the WHA68



[WHA68] IFMSA Statement on Recruitment of Health Personnel

Statement made on May 22nd 2015 during the 68th World Health Assembly on Item 17.2: WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel

IFMSA welcomes the document A68/32 addressing the implementation of the code.

Whilst applauding the efforts of Member States and WHO, we, as future health professionals, raise a concern that current Code is mainly focused on regulating the migration of health personnels.

It is fundamental that member states apply Code article 3.6 and tackle fundamental factors that cause the migration such as poor or unsafe practice environments, poor education and excessive workload, sometimes over 100 hours per week.

We are facing mental and physical strains, harming our practice, decreasing patient safety and exponentially increasing the costs of healthcare systems, and sometimes even leading to suicide. Health workers and students must be protected from violence, discrimination and exploitation in the workplace, and be allowed to operate within a positive practice environment that guarantees occupational safety and health.

We urgently need evidence-based data on core factors leading to migration such as poor education, working environment, equitable distribution and retention of health workforce. We urge member states to increase the engagement of health workers, educators and students in the process of data collection and creation of national implementation strategies.

We highlight the problems in the efficient implementation of the Code as stated in the report and we urge the WHO Secretariat to acknowledge the value of the input from stakeholders in enforcing accountability in accordance with article 9.4.

Health in the emerging post-2015 development framework will remain aspirational unless accompanied by strategies involving transformational efforts on health workforce capability that don’t only focus on developing countries.

IFMSA commits to participate in the discussions related to the creation of a Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health and we encourage member states to have a more comprehensive discussion on dimensions of current health workforce crisis.

Without motivated health workers, there is no health care.