So, as told in the previous post, we finished Tuesday at the 63rd WHO European Regional Committee Session with an invitation for NGOs to meet with the Regional Director Dr. Jakab to explore how NGOs could improve their visibility in the Committee Session.Last year, we were not able to present statements and during this meeting until that point none had been able to do so as well.
Taking the lead in this process, during the social event IFMSA tried to call other NGOs for an early meeting the following day, right before the one with the Regional Director. Some NGOs appeared and we were able to discuss a few topics, but time was short. During the meeting with Dr. Jakab the Regional Office was clear about being open to NGOs and from the NGOs two major ideas were delivered: we would need to collaborate more among ourselves and we would like the Regional Committee to involve NGOs more along the year. We also agreed that NGOs could meet more often as a group and we agreed on a meeting for that same day in the afternoon when the Committee Session would be only open for governmental representatives.
In the Session, several topics were discussed and this time, an NGO was able to share its view. Topics like the regional framework for surveillance and control of invasive mosquito vectors and re-emerging vector-borne diseases, progress report on measles and rubella elimination and the package for accelerated action to achieve elimination by 2015, governance of the Regional Office for Europe, including an analysis of the 83 resolutions passed by the Regional Committee in the past 10 years. The topic of Mental Health Action Plan, the last one IFMSA had a statement on, was delayed for the next day .
picture of WHO EURO RD, Dr. Jakab, IFMSA’s delegation and WMA’s representative
During lunch, part of the delegation was able to attend the technical briefing on Implementing Health 2020 in Turkey and the other part was in a meeting with staff from the Regional Office to explore further collaboration opportunities. Some of the topics addressed were:
- internships at the different offices: Regional, Geographical Dispersed and country offices. One of these would be specifically to explore the relationship between WHO and NGOs on the regional level.
- Potential help from WHO experts (comments and feedback on IFMSA’s projects).
- Participation of WHO experts in meetings of IFMSA and NMOs. Also in webinars and other online events. We also addressed the possibility of doing webinars to celebrate health related days.
- Collaboration with WHO to spread their message in our networks and among the European Youth Forum, e.g.
During the NGO meeting in the afternoon, some NGOs tried to push for a joint statement thanking Dr. Jakab for her efforts. Additionally, some ideas for the future as well as a commitment to help the implementation of Health 2020 were mentioned. As IFMSA did not agree with this approach (short notice discussion, many of the NGOs couldn’t take statements in short notice and because the statement should be better in terms of content), we suggested minutes from the meeting that were later sent to the Regional Office.
In the Committee session a partnership between WHO EURO, UNFPA and UNICEF was signed. As a last topic of the day – Geographically Dispersed Offices – there was a decision to create two more of these offices, one in Kazakhstan for Primary Health Care, another one in Turkey for Preparedness for Humanitarian and Health Emergencies.
The day ended with a great dinner in Izmir, as an event to create awareness about Izmir’s bid to host the EXPO 2020 with the first health related topic of Expos – Health for all.
IFMSA’s delegation and WMA representative at a Social event in Izmir
On the last day of the meeting, the first topic was the European Mental Action Plan 2014-2020 and IFMSA was able to present its statement orally. We received numerous positive feedback, specially having in mind that this was the only one we could present this way, among the four we had prepared.
The remaining topics of the day were mainly about decisions from the World Health Assembly.
During the lunch there was a technical briefing about the latest report on social determinants of health where IFMSA also took an active role in participating.
During the afternoon, the session was about progress reports on several topics (Communicable diseases, NCDs, Promoting health through the life-course and Preparedness, surveillance and response).
A lot more happened, but if you would like to know more wait for the detailed report.
Turkey was a great host for this Regional Committee and we now look forward to the next one in the Regional Office in Copenhagen, Denmark.