International Federation of Medical Students' Associations

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Seventy-second World Health Assembly (A72/1)
Agenda Item: 
- WHO’s work in health emergencies

This statement is delivered by the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations and supported by the International Association of Dental Students, together representing 2 million healthcare students. We commend the WHO on its work in minimising the negative impact of health emergencies on public health through continued implementation of the International Health Regulations and the WHO Health Emergencies Programme.

Integrating Universal Health Coverage and health security is essential to creating resilient health systems. We urge the WHO to support the development of strong primary health care systems, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected states. Concerned by the rise in attacks on health workers, we call on the WHO and all member states to reaffirm their commitment to the UN Security Council Resolution 2286, to prioritise the safety and protection of all healthcare workers on the frontlines and create guidelines that promote the mental health and wellbeing of healthcare workers in such challenging situations.

Noting recent concerns regarding the ownership and consent provided for Ebola blood samples extracted during the 2014-2016 epidemic, we also call on member states to adhere to the Nagoya Protocol to ensure fair access to resources and benefit-sharing both during and following health emergencies. We urge companies and researchers to be transparent and ethical in their conduct, and ensure that the benefits of their research flow back to the countries of origin.

Finally, we call on member states to adequately finance the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies, and to fully fund the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility. We maintain that a One Health approach is paramount to the WHO’s work in health emergencies. The active inclusion of all stakeholders, including youth, is essential for accelerating progress towards achieving the SDGs and health for all.