Archive for December, 2011

This post can also be found at:

Day 1 of the World Health Assembly came with its ups and downs. However, IFMSA does have a delegation you can be proud of!

A structured day started with IFMSA participation in the World Federation of Public Health Associations’ Luncheon, our first opportunity to network and break bread with some elites in the field of health. It also provided us a good opportunity to schedule/confirm meetings with some of the external organizations we work with. Good first steps at the assembly in itself.

And then came Margaret Chan’s Speech. If you missed reading about it, see the blog preceding this one with the relevant link. Dr Chan is indeed envisioning a new direction for WHO. In her words, “I see a WHO that pursues excellence, an organization that is effective, efficient, responsive, objective, transparent and accountable. I see WHO catalyzing more effective development aid that builds the capacities for countries to move towards self-reliance. Countries want a hand up, not a hand-out. I see a WHO that continues to base much of its work towards the many unmet health needs in Africa and beyond, and to the empowerment of healthy, well-educated, self-confident women and girls. I see a new WHO that works with other sectors to address health risks that threaten the health and stability of societies, and a new WHO where all countries, small or big, rich or poor, come together to defend equity, social justice, and human rights.”

This was followed by an open invitation to all of us to join her on this journey of reaffirmation, remembrance, reform, and revitalization, whilst always remembering the people!

An amazing speech, it most certainly was. However, the question that nagged many was the same. Is this solely another wave of motivational speaking? Will action be backed by words? Will implementation follow adoption of agreements, statements and regulations?

Your guess is most certainly as good as mine!

It was an awesome way to kick off for the work that lay ahead. It was a good platform for IFMSA to re-evaluate some of the points in our strategic plan for the Assembly. The blogs that follow will give you more insight for sure.

What we would like to have now, are a few responses from all of you out there reading this. Some reactions to Dr Chan’s statement. Some input on the priority points she has mentioned, and of course on the achievements that she highlighted.

We will be coming through with more updates for sure, especially on the issues of Health Systems Strengthening, Youth and Health Risks, Non-communicable diseases and the Social Determinants of Health, Climate Change and Health and the HIV/AIDS strategy.

Regards from Cj, Usman, Leo and the WHA team :)

This post can also be found at:

This is one long blog, and probably our last for the next couple of days! So no worries, we won’t drown you with much more stories!

Richard Horton. Yes, Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the Lancet was the moderator of an amazing Panel discussion on the Non-communicable diseases (NCDs)! If you want to know more about who he is, here are a few links: ,

The panel discussion side event was open and featured a wide range of participants from the Ministers of Health of Barbados, Bhutan, Assistant Minister of Health of Mexico, departmental heads within the WHO to members of civil society, including Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, Young Professionals for Chronic Disease, IFMSA and loads more. The focus here was to raise concerns as regards the handling of policies around the NCDs and especially the preparations towards the UN summit on the NCDs in September.

IFMSA made an intervention asking for the involvement of young people, (and especially young, future health care professionals) in all discussions about NCDs and especially in preparing any resolutions or agreements at the summit. This was received quite well, prompting people to approach members of our delegation afterwards to open up discussions on how different groups could come together and work towards the summit, to make sure that a firm and practical agreement is reached.

A side event on the Social Determinants of Health was running parallel to the side event on the NCDs, hosted by the Brazilian delegation. Another array of dignitaries were present including the Ministers of Health of Chile, Mexico and representatives of several civil society groups. The focus in this event was to elaborate on the need and rationale behind the World conference on the Social Determinants of Health, to discuss the public consultation that is currently going on and to encourage individuals and organizations to make input to the consultation.

We attempted to make an intervention on the key role of young people in addressing the social determinants of health and how we intend to participate in the public consultation but this was unfortunately not successful. However, we made key contact with the Director from mexico who was moderating the sessions and we started exploring ways to ensure IFMSA gets a delegation to the world conference.

Where has this left IFMSA?

1. We decided to prepare a detailed intervention for the Plenaries, that emphasizes that addressing the social determinants of health is a key component to addressing the NCDs

2. We decided to prepare a detailed intervention for the Plenaries, that emphasizes that addressing the NCDs cannot be allowed to cause a neglect of the MDGs

3. We will be leaving a letter for the Brazilian National Delegation, to further stress our desire to send an active delegation to the World Conference on the Social Determinants of Health in Rio in October.

4. The WHO may also extend us an invitation to bring a delegation, as IFMSA in an NGO in official relations with the WHO

5. We also have a better background and framework with which to prepare our delegate to UN summit on the NCDs in September.

What are your thoughts on our actions so far? What are your thoughts on IFMSA’s plan? How would you like us to make our access to the UN summit and the Rio conference count?

The WHA team can’t wait to hear your thoughts!!

Regards from Cj, Unni and the WHA delegation :)