IFMSA at WHO EB136

The World Health Organization (WHO) 136th Executive Board Meeting is currently taking place in Geneva, at the WHO Headquarters, between January 26th and February 3rd 2015.

IFMSA is represented by a delegation composed by our President, Agostinho Sousa, our Vice President for External Affairs, Claudel Desrosiers, Ivan Seah, from AMSA-Singapore, and myself, Pedro Correia de Miranda, Liaison Officer to WHO.

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Over the course of the week, 193 member states, dozens of NGOs and Civil Society itself, are discussing and updating the World on a multitude of issues that includes namely: the Ebola Outbreak, the Post 2015 Agenda, Health Systems, Violence and Health, Trade Partnerships and Climate Change. Negotiations go on all day (and night if needed!) in order to produce an Agenda for the next World Health Assembly (WHA), happening in May.

We have two main goals this week:

  1. Identifying the agenda priorities for the upcoming WHA (and work on them until then)
  2. Represent IFMSA as its voice and opinion;

As such, we have been drafting and delivering many statements that have been posted on the blog. Those statements match IFMSA global priorities, and are aligned with the Federation’s policy statements.

We are thrilled to be here on IFMSA’s behalf, and reassure you that we are working hard on promoting our opinions as the voice of the youths at WHO. Should you want to get involved or give your opinion, please do not hesitate to approach Pedro, IFMSA Liaison Officer to WHO, at lwho@ifmsa.org.

WHO EB136: Statement on Ebola Outbreak

Statement submitted to the World Health Organization (WHO) 136th Executive Board Meeting.

IFMSA is currently represented at WHO EB136 by a delegation of 4 members: Pedro Miranda (LO-WHO), Agostinho Sousa (President), Claudel P-Desrosiers (VPE) and Ivan Seah (General Delegate).

Agenda Item 9.4 – Ebola Outbreak

Honorable Chair,
Honorable Madame Chair,
Distinguished Delegates,

The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations strongly welcomes and fully supports the adoption of the resolution on the Ebola outbreak. IFMSA represents a global network of medical students in 116 countries.

IFMSA regrets the deaths and injuries caused by this disease. This outbreak showed us the importance of investing in health and in the socio-economic determinants of health. It was fortunately seen as an eye opener to the need of countries to strengthen their health systems and their public health policies in times of large-scale outbreaks. We acknowledge that we should have been better prepared to face this epidemic, and we strongly support this resolution.

IFMSA calls WHO to:

  • Reaffirm its engagement to act on the social determinants of health – the underlying causes of diseases – in ensuring the right to health for all;
  • Encourage the international community to continue assisting the affected countries: this will include, but is not limited to donating protective gear, medicines and contributing to research and development of vaccines;
  • Work closely with the member states to strengthen their health systems in order to be better prepared for public health threats such as Ebola in the future;
  • As stated by Liberia, ensure inclusion of Ebola survivors and orphans on its priorities, providing them adequate social support.

We are pleased that this outbreak is serving as a learning opportunity. With in mind the importance of the implementation of the International Health Regulations, we encourage Member states to work towards health systems strengthening; increased disaster preparedness and response; and an adapted and up-to- date education and training of healthcare students to face similar challenges. This will only help us saving thousands of lives.

IFMSA has witnessed an incredible sense of leadership and of unity within our network since the outbreak started. Through the Kick Ebola Out Campaign led by students from Sierra Leone and Guinea, our members have been engaging the public through health education and sensitisation programs. We welcome those efforts with gratitude. We conclude with stating that IFMSA commits to continue providing our members with capacity-building opportunities so they can grow as doctors who will shape a sustainable and healthy future.

WHO EB136: Statement on Climate and Health

Statement to be read during the World Health Organization (WHO) 136th Executive Board Meeting.

IFMSA is currently represented at WHO EB136 by a delegation of 4 members: Pedro Miranda (LO-WHO), Agostinho Sousa (President), Claudel P-Desrosiers (VPE) and Ivan Seah (General Delegate).

Agenda Item 7.2 – Climate and Health

For many years now, the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA) has been advocating for greater recognition of health in the climate change negotiations. We were pleased to welcome and to attend the Climate and Health Conference last August, and we thank the WHO for the place given to youth and medical students in the meeting.

We congratulate the WHO for hosting its first carbon neutral meeting, however we wish it would become a tradition of the WHO. Meaningful actions must follow words.

The links between climate change and health are more clear than ever. However, during COP20 in Lima, we had to convince member states to integrate considerations of health co-benefits in the ADP – for many, it was something they never considered, although they recognized health to be a national priority. Our interventions were successful and health co-benefits is referenced to in Article 19; however health is still not mentioned in the Elements Text.

The Elements Text that will be open for discussion in February here in Geneva during ADP 2.8 Session. We ask you, as countries representatives, to talk with your colleagues from the other sectors of your government to make sure health remains a priority for all. It is crucial that INCDs – due March 2015 – include a clear assessment of the health cobenefits associated with mitigation and adaptation activities. It is your responsibility to ensure, we – the health sector – don’t work in silos on the road to Paris and beyond.

Finally, we call on the WHO :

  • To recognize climate change as a public health emergency
  • To recognize the right to health in climate talks
  • To provide adequate support to help countries implement national policies with considerations to health;

IFMSA is hopeful of a greener, healthier future, but we need your political will to make this happen. If we keep falling behind our mandate, it will be impossible for us to fulfill our responsibilities as health professionals and to protect populations’ health.