Preparing the future today: World Health Organisation and young doctors

who-2017

(WHO, 2017)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Mr Jorge Félix Cardoso. The writer is and a 21 years old medical student from Porto, Portugal. He is also affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

These last few years have been painful for the WHO. In a world filled with conflict, where truth is becoming subjective, grandiose institutions like it have become symbol of what populists discard as playgrounds to entertain the elites. Sadly, there has never been a time when the WHO is as necessary as it is now.

After decades of improvement in healthcare conditions around the world, there are some data that show a timid decline in, for instance, living expectancy in developed societies. War is displacing hundreds of thousands of citizens worldwide, generating mass movements across borders and across healthcare systems. Human resources are still scarce in the healthcare sector.

Pseudoscience is increasing, due to flaws in the scientific research ecosystem. In all these problems, WHO must have an active voice, and this must happen through young doctors, for they are the ones that will be around longer to ensure a lasting impact, and they are some of the most affected professionals if these problems are not addressed quickly. Therefore, either through internships, scholarships or youth-dedicated events, WHO needs to give rise to better conditions for young doctors to get involved, regardless of their socioeconomic status.

This means not only having internships, but also creating conditions for applicants, such as accommodation and living conditions, which is not happening nowadays.

With increasing technological improvements, healthcare is going to be transformed, requiring less knowledge-intensive training and more critical-thinking based approaches to the practice of medicine. Since this will allow for a decrease in the need of healthcare workers, WHO should be at the forefront of this change of paradigm.

If we need more doctors available worldwide, it is undoubtedly faster to free young doctors from bureaucracies that take away most of their time, or from tasks that can be automated, than educating more doctors. Doctors will never be replaced, but they will greatly benefit from working together with technology.

Finally, one of the main problems of the UN as a whole and WHO in particular is the distance between everyday life of regular citizens and the discussions taking place inside its governing bodies. This is happening across the globe and at different levels – national, regional, global.

Young doctors’ input needs to be promoted, not only in traditional public health issues, but also in problems regarding urbanism, education or economics. For One Health to evolve from an ideal into a practical concept, we need young doctors engaging with every sector of society, and WHO can be a great promoter of this attitude.

Young doctors need a strong WHO to correct the increasing amount of problems worldwide; in order for that to happen, WHO has to get them involved in discussions and have the courage to instigate them to assume responsibilities in shaping the future of healthcare. People usually say “young leaders are the future”. WHO should allow them to be the present as well.

About the author

Jorge Félix Cardoso is a 21 years old medical student from Porto, Portugal. Since the start of his studies in Medicine, he has been raising awareness for the need to broaden our universities’ curricula, making it more about critical-thinking skills. He is also Financial Director of Porto Biomedical Journal, a non-profit project for better and more open Science. A voracious reader and passionate for arts and humanities, he is also pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy. Currently, he leads JA Alumni Portugal, a network of young entrepreneurs.

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