by Dr. Mihály Kökény
(former health minister of Hungary)
at IFMSA pre GA
1 March 2014
Congratulations to IFMSA! I have been invited as a guest and a speaker to assist these bright and very well informed medical students in modelling a real global health event namely a WHO committee session. I was amazed by the excellent understanding of global challenges as well as the openness and responsible thinking of the people participated in this game. David from Canada, Marie and Monica from Denmark, Nathan from Northern Ireland and Waruguru from Kenya proved to be a fantastic team in guiding participants through the complicated labyrinth which makes the governance of WHO often rigid and bureaucratic. But you guys, future health diplomats seemed to be well advanced and prepared to cure WHO’s chronic diseases! That is why the exercise was a fun and a serious lesson for those attended.
I have appreciated that IFMSA activists picked up a broad approach in understanding health. They broke with the narrow biomedical attitude and positioned health to a wider context through its social determinants. And this is the way in which health could prominently be pushed higher in the post-2015 development framework. That is the expectation of the global health community.
You as medical students learned the messages of the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (1986) well: health is not created and lost in the health system, it is a product of complicated and interlinked factors of genetics and social settings, environmental circumstances, of course science and technology, but sometimes politics. Health services can play but just a minor role in this game. The last 2-3 decades taught us that these processes influencing human health are global in larger extent, so that is why it is important how health is positioned in the global arena when diplomats and world leaders plan post 2015 agenda.
Go ahead on this track courageously! I have enjoyed being with you and hope to be in touch if needed.