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WHOCC2018 Day One

“If you don’t believe in the power of one, try sleeping with a mosquito” – Nelson Mandela.

As I sit here in an Australian Café reflecting on the first day of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centres Conference 2018 in Cairns, Australia, I can’t help but feel inspired by the many global leaders I had the opportunity to be surrounded by today. What an amazing day full of passionate global leaders, all with one goal in mind; the Sustainable Development Goals.

The day started off with a welcome address from Dr. Sandra Harding, the Vice Chancellor of James Cook University who spoke to the recent reports regarding global sustainability, particularly in the tropics. According to United Nations “the Tropics account for 40 per cent of the world’s total surface area and are host to approximately 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity and much of its language and cultural diversity. The tropical region faces a number of challenges such as climate change, deforestation, logging, urbanization and demographic changes.”​

Dr. Harding touched on various topics pertaining to the increase in undernourished individuals, maternal mortality, birth absence by a healthcare professional between 2000-2015; all of which we would hope to see the opposite trend (decrease in rates). Some statistics to consider as reported by the United Nations:

  • Consistent with the higher levels of poverty, more people experience undernourishment in the Tropics than in the rest of the World.

  • The proportion of the urban population living in slum conditions is higher in the Tropics than in the rest of the World.

  • By 2050, the region will host most of the world's people and two-thirds of its children.

Following this, there was a keynote speech by Dr. Debra Thoms, who is the Commonwealth Chief of Nursing and Midwifery Officer, and involved with the Australian Government Department of Health. Dr. Thoms started off with yet another staggering statistic “40 million healthcare workers are required by 2030 to keep pace in the increasing demand of healthcare.” Although this statistic pertains specifically to healthcare workers, it represents the magnitude of work we have ahead of us. Although, what may seem overwhelming or audacious simply solidifies our responsibility as global leaders to create an impact.

The keynote address then went to Dr. John Daly, who I’ve had the pleasure of hearing speak many times. Dr. Daly is Emeritus Professor, and current Dean of the WHOCC for Nursing, Midwifery, and Health Development at the University of Technology, Sydney. As per usual, Dr. Daly brought up some incredibly inspiring, yet eye-opening points that pertain to the Sustainable Development Goals. First and foremost, he stated the often-heard (yet, undesirable) statement that “the rich are getting richer and, well, the poor are lagging behind”. He furthered this by touching on the current, and in some areas growing, discrimination against women in regards to employment, finances, opportunities, etc.

Dr. Daly laid out a unique way of viewing the global ‘agenda’ into three categories: 1) unfinished (high rates of infection); 2) emerging (universal healthcare); and, 3) cost (increasing costs). Ready for another statistic… 400 million people currently do not have access to essential healthcare services, and 150 million people fall into poverty every single year just paying for health. Take a minute and just reflect on those numbers. In perspective, there are just over 300 million people in all of the United States of America, meaning more than the entire population of the USA do not have access to healthcare.

Following this, I had the incredible pleasure of speaking on behalf of Youthnited Nations and spreading our mission as an organization. I am more than honoured to have had the opportunity to speak at the World Health Organization Collaborating Centres conference, and speak on behalf of all of the incredible youth leaders we have within our organization. During the presentation I was able to touch on various topics such as leadership, advocacy and awareness, and community partnerships. Not only was Youthnited Nations well received by the audience, but successfully gained many new members worldwide (exciting!).

So, what do we do with this….well you’ve come to the right place. How can we as global leaders, and more specifically global YOUTH leaders, have an impact? You may already know my answer to this, but I strongly encourage you to become a member and join a Youthnited Nation’s committee. If this isn’t something that interests you, or if you have already done so, write a blog, subscribe to our newsletter, or share information on social media. Become a citizen of change, be the global leader that is within all of us, and advocate for the change that must happen.

Since today is Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, and as Dr. Daly stated today:

“If you don’t believe in the power of one, try sleeping with a mosquito” – Nelson Mandela.”

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