May 21 – 26, 2012, Van Duong ’13, Gina Stassinos ’13, Michael Chuang ’14, and Tammie Chau ’12 attended the 65th Annual World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland as part of Pacific’s International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF). Duong, former IPSF co-chair and current chair of the IPSF Pan American Regional Office (PARO), was made aware of WHA through her involvement with PARO and invited her peers to join her on this one of a kind opportunity.
The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO). It is attended by delegates from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies of the organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed program budget.
“It’s important to see pharmacy students advocate for health related issues at an international level,” said Stassinos. “Attending the WHA was a great educational experience and I found it very inspirational. It is the type of work I’m interested in so I had a wonderful time,” added Duong.
During the assembly, the group was able to network with other students, healthcare leaders and politicians; and sit in on committees and follow their discussions. They were also given an opportunity to work as a group to submit their argument on falsified medication. In addition, they gained useful information on different health-related campaigns such as immunization and malaria.
Chuang’s grandfather worked for the WHO as a representative from Taiwan and was heavily involved with programs focused on Malaria, specifically the impact it had in Africa. After attending the assembly, Chuang was inspired to continue his grandfather’s work and help spread awareness about Malaria through the use of brochures, surveys, and educational outreach events. He will be working closely with IPSF members to move this project forward.
“This trip really opened my eyes to illnesses and diseases and healthcare issues. It motivated me to get involved,” commented Chuang.
While on the trip, the group also got to experience the beauty and culture of Switzerland. They visited the chocolate factory, went paragliding, and hiking at Mount Saleve.
By Dua Her '09