By Jessica Elliot
Who’d have thought that IFMSA March Meeting blues were real? Well it’s been a week and I’m already missing the stimulating workshops, inspiring people and not least the daily all-you-can-eat buffet that was the Montenegran Meeting!!
Signing up to the MM17, I really didn’t know what to expect. To be honest, my main concern was about the time off clinics, so before arriving in Budva I really hadn’t given much thought to what the week would entail. But I was excited. I was excited to be fully immersed in the world of global health and to meet individuals from all over the world to discuss topics from paraphilia to transgender rights!
On the first day of meeting, I attended the theme event on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which was organised into a Youth Caucus jointly hosted by the IFMSA and the World Health Organisation (WHO). The panel discussion included experts from a number of different avenues within preventative and primary care, discussing topics ranging from the impact of air pollution on health, to the ways in which local governance can make a difference. It was particularly exciting to meet Dr Bente Mikkelsen, Head of the Secretariat for the World Health Organisation Global Coordination Mechanism on the Prevention and Control of NCDs! She spoke with such enthusiasm about what can and should be done to curb the epidemic of NCDs – was truly inspiring to hear from such experts in this field! Additionally, as someone with a particular interest in nutrition, a highlight for me was the debate around sugar taxation and how policy is able to influence healthier diet choices.
After the first part of the NCD Youth Caucus, I met Charlotte O’Leary from the Australian AMSA Delegation who was producing the Budva Declaration on NCDs. The declaration is aimed for external representation at the 2018 United Nations Third High Level Meeting on NCDs. It is based on data collected before the IFMSA Youth Caucus, input from delegates during the General Assembly and existing IFMSA policies.
The declaration focusses on addressing the Sustainable Development Goal target 3.4 which calls for a reduction by one third of premature mortality from NCDs through prevention and treatment by 2030, and the promotion of mental health and well-being. The document asks policy makers, all sectors of government, civil society members and other stakeholders to address NCDs through sound financing, urban planning, multisectoral action and good nutrition! The document highlights 6 key areas to focus on:
- Financing NCD prevention and control through fiscal measures
- Protecting health in the urban environment
- Empowering vulnerable populations and reducing inequity
- Youth and NCDs
- Health systems for NCDs
- Investing in the health workforce
Having the opportunity to have an input on such a fantastic policy was such a rewarding experience; myself and Claire, another UK Delegate, reviewed and edited the document before its submission at the Final Plenary, where it was passed! Having the opportunity to get involved with this document as well as engaging in conversation with experts from the WHO and other organisations, was a truly unique experience I thank the IFMSA for!