Why is the World Health Organisation so much needed?

IFMSA, 2017

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Mr. Antonio Luque Ambrosian, a medical student at the University of Seville, Spain. 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.

When I think about the World Health Organisation (WHO), sometimes I get lost while trying to define what it is really about, what those three letters represent for me and the meaning that they imply when spoken. Why is it necessary to have a supranational entity representing health care providers? Do we have to care about global things when we have our own local problems? These are questions that resounded inside my head when thinking about it, and I had no answer for them. But, after this last year, I found some firm reasons to affirm that an international medical organization is highly needed.

First, I realized how important was its function as coordinator (and far more than that) of different countries, for example, during Zika’s outbreak, the paramount need of having someone there to tell you that there is a problem somewhere and you must go to that particular place and help, or at least, be concerned about it. That it’s crucial, in order to provide people with effective solutions. Even though it sounds for me quite big these world affairs as a medical student, I can get some idea of the relevance of co-working between nations to solve catastrophes or natural disasters rapidly and easily. Second, I should underline the necessity of a watchdog to care about human rights, not only in the social field but inside the medical one. In spite of government’s ideas and political beliefs which must be respected without exception, medical ethics must rise above them and guide medical practice even through difficult times, like war. Third, I found during my days studying illnesses how essential was to provide doctors with unified criteria in terms of diagnosis and standard treatment, due to the huge amount of information out there, standing WHO as a reference when it comes to these issues.

Having spoken about the main traits of WHO from the perspective of a medical student, I must come up with specific ways of helping from the ground to put this message across classmates, health workers, patients and all of us, as a unified society. To start with, I would say that the most useful task that a medical student is able to perform is teaching and sharing the values of this organization, during their degree and after graduating, non-stop. This can be done through talks, workshops and performances that make these values easy to understand for everyone in and outside “the medical world”. In particular, I have to say that visual representation of the ideas provided is the most effective way of doing this, thanks to the emotional part of reasoning that we have when we not only read but see the reality that is surrounding ourselves every day.

About the author

Antonio Luque Ambrosian is a medical student at the University of Seville, Spain. Antonio is in need of thought-provoking ideas, completely new points of view and different ways of regarding medical life. From a local position, trying to get in contact with the rest of the world through organizations like IFMSA and WHO, both pioneers in supranational issues. Going through my third year of my medical degree, still charged with positive energy and motivation for the coming years, without forgetting the necessity to have a vivid and intense debate about different topics.


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  1. Antonio Cristóbal Luque Ambrosiani says:

    This article is from last year, despite that I leave here some references about this topic in case anyone is interested in reading them to acknowledge the work of WHO during these recent decades.

    1. Wibulpolprasert S, Chowdhury M. World health organization: Overhaul or dismantle? Am J Public Health. 2016;106(11):1910–1.
    2. WHO. Situation report: Zika virus, microcephaly, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, 10 march 2017. Situat Rep [Internet]. 2017;(March):1–5. Available from: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/254714/1/zikasitrep10Mar17-eng.pdf?ua=1
    3. Abel EK, Fee E, Brown TM. Milton I. Roemer advocate of social medicine, international health, and national health insurance. Am J Public Health. 2008;98(9):1596–7.
    4. World Health Organization (WHO). WHO strategic response plan. WHO Libr -in- Publ data [Internet]. 2016;(June 2016):1–50. Available from: http://www.who.int/about/licensing/copyright_form/en/index.htmlhttp://www.who.int/emergencies/zika-virus/en/
    5. Moon S. WHO’s role in the global health system: What can be learned from global R&D debates? Public Health [Internet]. 2014;128(2):167–72. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2013.08.014
    6. Lee HK. Success of 2013-2020 World Health Organization action plan to control non-communicable diseases would require pollutants control. J Diabetes Investig. 2014;5(6):621–2.
    7. Meier BM, Onzivu W. The evolution of human rights in World Health Organization policy and the future of human rights through global health governance. Public Health [Internet]. 2014;128(2):179–87. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2013.08.012

    Last but not least, the full name of the author is Antonio Cristóbal Luque Ambrosiani. The final i is missing. Thanks to The European Sting for publishing the article and for your reading of this article!

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