Global students impress

American Mock World Health Organization (AMWHO) meeting held at the Gillings School

Friday afternoon, Jan. 25, I had the true joy of speaking to an auditorium full of smart, passionate, energized students participating in the annual regional AMWHO conference, a weekend-long event hosted this year by the UNC-Chapel Hill chapter and held at the Gillings School.

The United States’s first organized global health policy educational experience for undergraduate, graduate and high school students modeled on the structure of the World Health Organization (WHO), AMWHO was developed here in 2014 and has grown to include 16 universities across the country, plus Enloe High School in Raleigh, N.C. So far, the South has the most chapters of any region; the goal is to have chapters and clubs in universities and high schools in every state.

Students in the role of WHO ambassadors gathered on the last day of the conference, Jan. 27, to provide amendments to every region’s policy resolutions and pass them. Photo courtesy of UNC AMWHO.

At regional, national and international conferences, participating students simulate the World Health Assembly, the sole decision-making body of the WHO, by assuming roles of delegates of various countries and representatives of industries, multinational corporations, foundations, universities, nongovernmental organizations, media outlets and others.

The conference is a great lesson in the complexity and give-and-take of policy making. Conference participants focus on a topic and spend much of the weekend discussing, debating and developing resolutions for adoption. Together, they draft a final resolution to send to the (real) WHO in Geneva, Switzerland. The theme of last weekend’s conference focused on the global food predicament and issues of social, economic, geographical and environmental equity related to food.

I was so impressed by the students’ level of engagement, the depth of their preparation and the value of the experience. Kudos to AMWHO at UNC leadership, including regional conference co-directors Rida Shams, a senior majoring in health policy and management and minoring in Spanish for the health professions, and Jarred Lobo, a junior majoring in neuroscience and public policy, with a minor in Spanish for the health professions, and to all the planners and participants!
Barbara

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