Trade Agreements and Health: A new round of negotiations in Brussels

On the 2nd and 3rd, I was in the European Public Health Alliance’s (EPHA) secretariat talking about TTIP, understanding the status of the negotiations from the EU side and defining a strategy for IFMSA to tackle this issue.

We’ve also worked in approaching some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who work for the ENVI Committee (the committee of the European Parliament dedicated to Environment and Public Health) in order to disseminate our concerns regarding the TTIP and Health.

The 8th Round of Discussion took place on the 4th of February, involving both United States (US) and European Union (EU) negotiators and stakeholders – like IFMSA – from both sides. In the morning, the 85 (!!!) stakeholders got the chance to present their concerns about the TTIP to the negotiators and to liaise with them about other questions.

I presented to the negotiators, orally, on behalf of IFMSA, our main concerns regarding global health and asked for the following:

  • To ensure the legal right for all EU member states, the European Union and the United States to legislate in the interests of public health. •
  • To ensure the highest standards of quality frameworks and professional qualifications health
  • To make sure that public health will not be seen merely as barrier to trade but will be mainstreamed into TTIP

In the afternoon Ignacio Garcia Bercero (EU Chief Negotiator) and Dan Mullaney (USA Chief Negotiator) gave us an overview of the current status of the negotiations. In what comes to health, they have assured that there would be regulatory freedom which would allow the high-quality standards of public services, including health, at the same time that the TTIP would lower the duplication of pharmaceutical control between nations, by promoting reliance on each other inspection of factories’ procedures.

On the 5th of February, took place the 2nd Annual EU-US Trade Conference. Many stakeholders and negotiators have attended this meeting, which was another good and fruitful moment to  talk with decision-makers and other stakeholders. The messages that we’re transmuted were quite similar to the ones that we’ve received the day before.

Nonetheless, we still have many concerns regarding the potential impact of TTIP on Health related issues, namely the extension of legal patents, the pricing and reimbursement of medicines, the effect on medical education and health workforce mobility and the negative impact on environmental issues.

I was very lucky to have some IFMSA members joining me during these two days, on behalf of their NMOs: Alexander Huybrechts, Alexander Brezina and Prerna Chaudhary from BeMSA-Belgium and Christian Koop from bvmd-Germany. On the way we also met Pascal Nohl-Deryk from the European Medical Students’ Association (EMSA).

We will keep on working in this issue to ensure that our (your!) voice is heard and that health is protected in case TTIP gets to a final agreement. Keep tuned!

Entry written by Alberto Abreu da Silva, Regional Coordinator for Europe 2014-2015


IFMSA at the European Youth Forum

IMG_4449Between the 18th and the 23rd of November, I was present in the European Youth Forum’s General Assembly in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the European Youth Capital for 2015 together with Kornelija Maceviciute, our Liaison Officer for Students Organizations.

IFMSA is a full member of the European Youth Forum, accessing to a platform that aggregates around 100 youth organizations, in which we discuss and learn about youth rights, non-formal education and many other important topics.

This federation holds a General Assembly every two years. In this GA, we’ve discussed the Work Plan of the European Youth Forum, agreed on Policy Resolutions and elected the board for the next term.

Kornelija and I gave input in several discussions, namely the inclusion of Universal Health Coverage in the European Youth Forum’s Work Plan; while drafting a Policy Resolution about the TTIP we raised awareness about the potential negative impact of this agreement on health-related issues, such as access to Medicines and Surgical Procedures; we actively participated in the elections’ discussions and outreached with many Youth Councils from Europe that will definitely help and work with our European National Members Organizations.

Plus, on the first day, we presented IFMSA in a Youth Fair for more than 300 guests, event during which the European Youth Capital for 2016 – Varna, Bulgaria – was publicly announced.

Surely we will put a lot of effort to continue following-up the European Youth Forum’s work and we will try to put health on the european youth agenda, so we can continue increasing the quality of our advocacy at the regional and global level.

Entry written by Alberto Abreu Da Silva, IFMSA Regional Coordinator for Europe 2014/15

Think Global at March Meeting 2014

Think Global is proud to landscape our achievements from the IFMSA March Meeting 2014, “post 2015, Get Involved!”. We at Think Global with the support of many of the Think Global passionate team certainly did get involved!

Firstly, Think Global is here to stay thanks to your support! The Initiative has been successfully and unanimously re-endorsed for another two years by the plenary. And on the note of elections, Think Global co-coordinator Claudel was elected to next year’s Executive Board as Vice-president for External Affairs.

Back to business; how does one go about creating the next generation of global health leaders? Think Global took every approach we could think of to ensure we were doing just that throughout MM14. Starting with the preGA Think Global was represented in four preGAs spanning global health leadership through to training trainers in advocacy. New Generation of Global Health Leaders participants acted as civil society advocates in the GlobalWHO final day honing their advocacy skills to fight for the advances in global health they feel so passionately about: climate change, health economy, mental health, non communicable diseases and universal health coverage. Cautious not to miss an opportunity, Claudel also ran a session on global health and sustainable development in the exchanges preGA workshop whilst Anya support the advocacy preGA from afar!

Think Global’s name was beginning to seep into the consciousness of those global health minded individuals. Yet more was to come from the team of passionate young global health lovers. The theme of March Meeting 2014 was the post Millenium Development Goals, post 2015 development agenda, suiting Think Global members down to the ground. The topic was introduced through excellent talks from inspiring externals each introducing varying aspects of the post-2015 clearly leading us through what has been a confused and overlapping process. Three subsequent parallel events aimed to educate participants on specific issues within the post2015 agenda. Think Global Coordinators Anya and Claudel facilitated sessions on Health Policies and Sustainable wellbeing respectively, where small group discussions led to excellent debate and intriguing questions to be answered. The need for a health revolution emerged…yet time was insufficient for this to be planned in detail!

Finally the theme event was rounded off with a stimulating interactive session. After being caught up on all the other sessions, a debate on the health aspect of the post-2015 agenda was staged between Mike Kalmus Eliasz (former Think Global coordinator) arguing for Healthy Life Expectancy and Waraguru Wanjau (the IFMSA Liaison Officer to the WHO) arguing for Universal Health Coverage. With IFMSA President implementing his SCORA upbringing and getting the whole room got involved, enraged and subsequently contributed to the creation of the Hammamet Resolution. A truly collaborative document clearly articulating the global views of medical students regarding the future development agenda.

Think Global representatives at the meeting didn’t stop there, there was more work to be done! During the joint Standing Committee sessions we twice ran a session on “Global Health Education – what, why and how?” In total around 60 participants explored the concept of global health and how to tackle their universities to include more of it in the curricula. This showcases the IFMSA at it’s best, where we can all share our experiences to develop the achievements of others and will be carried forward for the next couple of months in order to develop an international guiding document. In addition, you may have already heard that the IFMSA is working to develop a standardised Global Health Advocacy Training; a three day workshop which can be implemented worldwide empowering youth to make change, work is continuing and all will soon be revealed.

We also collaborated on IFMSA policy statements which were successfully adopted, including one on trade and health and one the future development goals. Plus, we have helped increasing the knowledge and interest regarding the Trans-pacific and Trans-atlantic trade agreements. We were also able to meeting with many members of the Team of Officials, specifically including the standing committee directors with whom we met and pledged to improve our communication to facilitate united activities for an even better IFMSA.

Finally, for us as Think Global coordinators meeting some of our inspirational team members face-to-face was a highlight of the conference. There is no amount of words that can thank you all for the hard work you do around the world.

If you are interested in getting involved with us for the rest of the term, please fill out this form. We are very much looking forward your bright ideas and meaningful input!

On behalf of the International Think Global Team,

Claudel & Anya