Reflections from day 1 of IFMSA’s Pre World Health Assembly 2014

On May 8, 2014 I graduated from medical school in Canada. At my graduation ceremony I was reminded that as a physician I need to be involved in health in all facets of society. It is now as I sit at the pre-World Health Assembly youth workshop run by the International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (IFMSA) discussing global health, global governance and global diplomacy that I am reminded just how important this is.

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As an undergraduate student I remember being in awe of the World Health Organization and its global mandate. I respected that every country at the yearly World Health Assembly received one vote. What I have come to understand today is that it is much more of a complicated entity than I could ever understand. Even for those, who have worked within the confines of this global network, it is complex. Surrounded by “New Voices in Global Health. Leadership, Policy, and Diplomacy” student delegates from various health professions today I have learned a few lessons.

 

Firstly that most people with poor health live in middle income countries, therefore we don’t just need to get how global aid is done right, we need to get politics and governance right. It is only by being reminded that the solutions go well beyond financial aid that the innovative changes to complex problems will be created.

 

Secondly, we live in a multi-pole world. The world is not made up of political blocks anymore, but instead of coalitions of groups of nations, companies, NGOs and research bodies. Some believe globalization diffuses power, allowing for the influence of less traditional actors such as coalitions of civil society- we certainly hope so. We must think of diplomacy in terms of those who generate unity among key players rather than merely asserting positions of difference.

Graham Lister

Finally, we are all global citizens and professionals. We all want to contribute to global governance. We work at it, not because the solution is clear to us, or the future certain, but because there are issues that bind our generation together and make us feel, even in the midst of tragedy that there is hope, hope that the complications that arise in our lifetime may find a solution. After all, we are all responsible for ensuring an equitable society for future generations.

 

Over the next few days we are here to learn about global governance and advocacy; to learn from experts and each other. If the health of societies is going to improve in my lifetime it is going to take a generation of passionate, effective and collaborative voices to ensure it happens. I am excited to start building this foundation over the next few days with the students around me.

 

Kimberly Williams

Organizing Committee Member, International Federation of Medical Students’ Association

Executive Member Canadian Federation of Medical Students

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