Health Governance: How to include the youth in decision making?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Pokpong Muangpaisarn, a first-year medical student at the Faculty of Medicine, Srinakharinwirot University, Thailand. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. 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.

Health Governance, the idea that a government has a responsibility to steer communities in the pursuit of health and well-being through both governmental and societal approaches, is a concept as old as society itself. Afterall, people have always wanted a healthcare system that is effective, efficient, and most of all, listens to the people it services.

As a medical student, I have seen countless campaigns on social media raising awareness on issues regarding overworked interns and underpaid medical staff, especially during the pandemic. Having participated in one myself, I realized that these issues cannot be solved simply by organizing campaigns alone. There needs to be a way for the youth, or truly anyone who is concerned, to be able to communicate directly and efficiently with government officials who have the power to make real change with policies.

The main problem is that the aforementioned “direct communication path” doesn’t exist. Communicating with government officials is a long and complicated process, especially if you are a student in high school or college. This long process discourages young people from voicing opinions on issues that directly affect themselves, simply because they cannot navigate the system.

Even minor modifications can have a significant impact. The current governmental system does not need to be rebuilt overnight, but we must start making changes now.

Policy makers could create a platform where young people can express their views without judgement or delay, and parliaments could allow students to give their input on new laws in a special debate session. This would be a way for the youth to make their voices heard, and it would give government officials more ideas on how to solve major issues in healthcare, such as passing legislation that protects healthcare workers, relieving overcrowding in public hospitals, and ensuring quality healthcare access for every person.

The youth represents the future of a nation, and it is important that we listen to the future, before we become the past ourselves. Sharing a quote from American author Alfie Kohn,

Children, after all, are not just adults-in-the-making. They are people whose current needs and rights and experiences must be taken seriously.”

About the authors

Pokpong Muangpaisarn is a first-year medical student at the Faculty of Medicine, Srinakharinwirot University, Thailand. He is a member of the Standing Committee on Research Exchange (SCORE) at IFMSA-Thailand and also a member of its Physician Rights’ Campaign. He believes that Open Science should be a right, not a privilege, to everyone.

He is also currently a law student at Ramkhamhaeng University.

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