IFMSA’s statement during WHO’s Non State Actor consultation

On behalf of 116 national member organizations, the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) congratulates the efforts of the WHO Secretariat in advancing WHO reform. The federation particularly appreciates efforts to improve WHO’s engagement with non-state actors.

 

The IFMSA highlights the importance of seeking the views of non governmental organizations in the development of health policies and strategies and especially the views of youth organizations on health issues that relate to youth as they affect young people directly. The IFMSA calls upon WHO to identify concrete mechanisms that can facilitate consultative processes such as a global civil society mechanism that ensures that concerned non state actors are able to give input in their respective areas.

 

As a federation of national organizations the IFMSA supports efforts to improve the modalities for engaging non governmental organizations in the different WHO activities at national, regional and global levels. We also welcome the revision of rules for NGO participation in WHO meetings at the international level in order to harmonize and streamline the participation of observers at regional committees. We applaud WHO’s effort to encourage Member States to hold national level policy dialogues with civil society on health matters including those concerning WHO.

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We urge the secretariat to continue to make swift progress to clarify policies in WHO with respect to managing conflicts of interest. A case-by-case approach to this issue is insufficient and threatens to  undermine the integrity of WHO. We believe that financial or commercial interests must  be fully disclosed and managed in decision-making processes. We specifically encourage the development of a clear policy including procedures and criteria for involvement of non-governmental organizations with conflicts of interest especially considering WHOs public health mandate.

 

In addition to  improving WHO relations with non state actors we call upon WHO to ensure meaningful youth participation. The IFMSA represents future health leaders from all over the world, and as such is an important voice which represents the views of young people. However, it is unfortunate that the IFMSA is one of the few youth organizations present at consultations such as the one in Geneva today.

 

A previous WHA Resolution on “Youth and Health Risks” (WHA 64.28) already referred to the importance of engaging with young people and students. In 2011, Member States requested the Director-General to “promote the participation and empowerment of young people as key stakeholders in health development, including in the work of the Organization…”  Moreover, the same resolution urges “Member States to support the role of young people, with special attention to youth organizations, with a view to facilitating young people’s empowerment and participation in influencing their environment and shaping public policy.”

 

The IFMSA urges the WHO to consider a youth forum in line with other UN agencies where youth can give input to health issues in a structured way to ensure meaningful youth participation. As a youth organization, the IFMSA has been working to forge coalitions with other health professions and student organizations in an effort to promote greater youth participation. Prior to the World Health Assembly (WHA), the IFMSA convened more than forty young leaders from around the world and across disciplines to craft a unified youth voice on key WHA agenda items affecting youth. We hope the secretariat will support this kind of initiative by creating a formal space for youth within the WHO to ensure issues directly related to youth receive appropriate consideration.

The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) envisions a world in which all medical students unite for global health and are equipped with the knowledge, skills and values to take on health leadership roles locally and globally. Our mission is to unite medical students worldwide to lead initiatives that impact positively the communities we serve. IFMSA represents the opinions and ideas of future health professionals in the field of global health, and works in collaboration with external partners. IFMSA builds capacity through training, project and exchanges opportunities, while embracing cultural diversity so as to shape a sustainable and healthy future.

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