Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a great week? It’s been almost a month since I’ve been back from Geneva but boy has it been hectic! So I want to tell you guys a little about my experience at the WHA71.
So as you know, the IFMSA Pre-World Health Assembly Organising Committee (myself included) organized a Pre-WHA workshop which was very high level; we had Heads of departments at the WHO, Executive Directors of major NGOs and UN Agencies such as StopTB Partnerships, UNAIDS, NCD Child etc come and speak to the young people on their experiences and how we can get involved – to find out more read my previous posts here: Part One & Part Two.
After 4 hectic days of the PreWHA, we entered into the WHA71 which was themed “Universal Health Coverage: Everyone and everywhere”. Guys, let me just tell you now that I have been applying to be on the PreWHA Organizing Committee for three years – but it was on my third (and final chance) that I was selected, and it just happens to be the year where the theme means so much to me; God is awesome. Moral of the short story – don’t let set backs hold you down; bounce back up, dust yourself off, work on yourself, and try again.
Back to the story, we started the WHA71 with a grand opening ceremony in the beautiful General Assembly Hall, where the Zimbabwe Minister of Health was elected as the President of the 71stassembly, Rwandan President Paul Kagame gave the keynote speech and Dr. Tedros, the WHO Director General honoured the family of a brave doctor who died whilst trying to contain the SARS virus.
WHA has a number of side events which tend to run parallel to each other, and at different venues of short walking distances from each other in Geneva. The primary locations used were the Palais Des Nations (UN), the World Health Organization Headquarters, the Intercontinental Hotel and the Graduate Institute – although there were a number of other venues such as the Biotech College of Geneva and YMCA. A side event is a smaller meeting than the grand general assembly; it allows for particular topics to be discussed in more detail, by high level people, plus it allows for direct contribution from the audience, when time allows of course. The important part about side events for many people however, is the opportunity to network. You can find yourself seated with the minister of health for Ghana, just like that. Meetings that could take months of bureaucracy to achieve under normal circumstances occur as happenstances at the WHA, hence why it’s important to be prepared for such moments ahead – which is what the Pre WHA is for!
ETP X Her Excellency, Mrs Toyin Saraki, Global Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives and Founder of Well Being Foundation Africa.
ETP X Dr. Tedros, The Director General of the World Health Organization.
ETP X Dr. Obinna Nnewuhie, of the Commonwealth Secretariat, London.
ETP X Tikala Itaye, Chairperson of the Global Movement, SheDecides
The IFMSA Delegation to the SheDecides Consultation; it was a fruitful meeting.
The Honorable Minister of Health for Malawi, speaking at a side event
Members of the Nigerian Delegation giving Nigeria’s report during a Committee A session.
The real best part about side events however, is the free food that some have haha! The cost of food is on the high side in Geneva, especially in the Palais Des Nations, so it’s handy to have a plan on spotting free food with your friends – it’s also a great teambuilding exercise haha.
How to make the most of the WHA? Come as prepared as you possibly can. Be armed with information, go through the Member States delegation list (each country’s delegation) and identify faces of those you’d like to meet, what you’d like to say to them, and what you aim to achieve from the meeting. Goal-directed actions are always a good idea! It’s very important to know how to “pitch” yourself – a lot of the time you come across the important personalities when you least expect it – have your introduction ready to go, keep it short and straight to the point – this increases the chances of being remembered.
You want to see a couple more photos? Do I hear a yes please? Your wish is my command!
what was Kareem doing with his face? Only he knows 😂
Ghana 🇬🇭 x Nigeria 🇳🇬
Till next time,