Reflections on the Ontario Model World Health Organization

BY NICOLE RAKOWSKI

I understood from a very young age that we have yet to find cures for some diseases. What I could not understand was why we had not cured hunger. We know how to fix it, and we can. Yet, hunger and malnutrition persist around the world. I joined the Ontario Model World Health Organisation (OMWHO) to explore possible answers to some of the world’s greatest problems. OMWHO took place from January 9th to 11th at Toronto City Hall. I am a fourth year trilingual student at McMaster University with an interest in Global and Public Health. I believe that health is an indispensable human right, and addressing global health inequalities  impacted  by climate change is paramount.  Responding to the global determinants of health with a social justice lens is critical. This combination is important in addressing the current health status of countries such as those in Western and Sub-Saharan Africa.

In the simulation of the WHO General Assembly Committee, I participated as a delegate representing Zimbabwe.  This year’s topic was Climate Change and Health.  I immersed myself in debates and discussions alongside fellow delegates to draft and present resolution papers on topics such as, “Improving Primary Health Care as a Preventative Measure to Climate Change.” This journey exposed me to the relevant and shocking realities of the effects of climate change on health.  I came to appreciate the vast disparities that exist in  global health, inspiring me to work towards diminishing the current gaps that exist among populations.

The plenary sessions enabled me to cultivate skills in inquiry and critical thinking, equipping me with an inquisitive mind for considering health care issues that burden the global community. I  strongly recommend this conference to anyone. It allows one to develop their diplomatic and networking skills, and to gain a further understanding of the complexity of an international organization such as the WHO. This experience made me realize the importance of creating global partnerships to address global challenges.. It has inspired me to one day work towards directly implementing and managing health programs in communities that lack access to essential resources.

OMWHO allows students to engage in an  experiential education platform in the dynamic field of global health. There is no better way to gain theoretical and practical experience pertaining to global health issues as they relate to development, policy, management and ethics. I have directly benefited from the one-on-one interactions with some of the world’s elite scholars. This experience has given me different global perspectives to supplement my research interests, and to ultimately compliment my future work in global health.  This experience allowed me to work in culturally diverse, transcontinental teams that challenged me to hone my verbal and non-verbal communication skills.  It has pushed my personal boundaries and given me the fundamental knowledge that I hope to build upon further in order to address today’s most vital global health challenges.

 

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