66th World Health Assembly – Day 3

The World Health Assembly is now cruising at its highest speed and day 3 started with the motivation from all that has already been accomplished. Early in the morning, too early for many of us, the delegation met at our new how: the Serpentine’s bar at the United Nations Office in Geneva. Short debriefs were done and soon everyone left towards their own jobs.

Health in the post-2015 agenda: Outcomes of the Global Thematic Consultation, was the main morning discussion, as well as Sexual and reproductive health and rights in the ICPD beyond 2014 and post-2015. Meanwhile, at Committee A, delegates debated on Noncommunicable Diseases and Promotion of Health through the life course.

As soon as main meeting were over, IFMSA delegates had the pressure to run after different ministers, ambassadors and representers of so many institution, to let the know about the work we’re doing and engage them with our opinions. Time flies at the WHA and so much is yet to do, that bustle is the scenario in each corridor, cafeteria or room at the venue. To be at the centre of decision making, where “to change” is not a dream but a reality, where negotiation and advocacy take place at its highest level, is both demanding and fascinating. Delegates are, indeed, putting in practice all skills developed during the Youth Pre-WHA and I take the risk of affirming that not one of the 3,000 people here gathered has not heard about IFMSA’s work.

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Workers and universal health coverage. Serving all workers – universal health coverage and productivity

The famous side meetings continued around lunch time. These are actually an extremely important moment as it is in these rooms that a consensus between WHO and Member States is obtained. True real discussions take place, and input from so many different sources always enriches these sessions. Six of these meetings happened simultaneously and IFMSA’s delegates, with the know-how obtained throughout the Pre-WHA and the experience gained on the last few days, had a meaningful participation in discussion on workers and universal health coverage, strengthening palliative care as a component of integrated treatment throughout the life course, addressing inequalities in NCDs: a focus on rheumatic heart disease, gender, equity and human rights: disaggregating data to get the real story, mHEALTH for NCDs: the unique opportunity and challenges, and launch of the WHO Global Alliance for the Care of the Injured.

Quick snacks and coffees were all we had to continue working on the statements yet to conclude: post millennium goals, and human resources in health, will be the two issue to tackle tomorrow, and statements need to be sent 24 hours in advance. Working under a pressure the we no more feel, we all met for one more debrief. Everyone is in a hurry, some arrive late, others leave early, but it is actually amazing to see our group sessions. Should someone have ran into Salle XXIII around 4pm today, the scenario they would encounter was a youth delegation with thirty people coming from all regions, shortly but professionally updating on what they have been doing and where they were heading.

We then headed to the Committee A where Roopa would have the chance to deliver our statement on NCDs, today’s subject of discussion. The meetings on this room tend to be long and complex, with dozens of interventions on specific issues that only well prepared delegates can actually understand. However, having IFMSA’s opinion being read out loud, clearly pointing out problems and suggesting concrete solutions, is indeed empowering youth and being engaged with decision making processes.

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IFMSA President Roopa Dhatt addressing WHA Committee A

Before the day would come to an end, we still had ahead of us one last round of meetings and side events. Motivated to both actively listen and participate on these debates, delegates went to sessions on new programme support and policy changes, WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel: Stoking up the fire for Code implementation, building systems to address functional decline and dependence in ageing populations, and volunteerism and health coverage.

WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel: Stoking up the fire for Code implementation Panel

Sunset was the picture behind us as we left the UN offices after one more amazing day. Everyone is with a mix of feelings, in a healthy equilibrium between huge motivation and a nearly as huge exhaustion. However, the success of the work done, and the will to strike on our goals for the next days, give us the power to continue pursuing our work! Back at the hostel, a final informal debriefing session allowed us to, once again, sit together and keep track on what everyone is doing.

IFMSA’s delegation is doing an amazing job here at the WHA. Engaging Youth in decision making processes is a huge goal, but the commitment of each delegates allows advocacy to happen, having a high quality Youth contribution on where change actually happens: the World Health Assembly.

Pedro Correia de Miranda
PorMSIC – Portuguese Medical Students International Committee
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