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WHOCC2018 Day Two

“What is the most important thing in the world, it is the people the people the people” - Unknown

If there is one thing I can confidently say regarding this conference, and incredible experience, is that I could not be more inspired and optimistic for our future as youth leaders. The amount of passionate, dedicated, and inspired youth that I met is so promising globally, and more specifically for Youthnited Nations. To recap the events of Day Two….

The day began with an emotional, yet informative address from Dr. Theresa Brockie an Indigenous leader from John Hopkins School of Nursing. Dr. Brockie presented on “Achieving health equity through community based prevention and interventions among vulnerable populations particularly indigenous people”. Among addressing a number of eye-opening statistics, she touched on the fact that rural and isolated indigenous individuals have the worst health outcomes, particularly focusing on increased rates of suicide and suicide attempts.

With current and past traumas influencing this population of youth specifically, Dr. Brockie emphasized the importance of using cultural components to enhance tribal identity and healing historical trauma. She spoke to a number of current interventions being used within the United States to address the previously mentioned issues, such as creating suicide prevention and intervention programs, and an app development to assist young girls in establishing health relationships. Dr. Brockie inspired the entire audience, receiving a standing ovation for her honesty and transparency in the current status of some Indigenous populations. Overall, her entire keynote address was wrapped up in one simple statement; “don’t plan for us, without us”.

Following this, I had the pleasure of hearing Mrs. Elizabeth Iro speak who is the Chief Nursing Officer for the World Health Organization. Mrs. Iro spoke on “Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Responsibility”; such a relevant and imperative topic to focus on. She stated that “the moment is NOW, and we cannot miss this window of opportunity”, as we currently are not keeping pace in meeting the 2030 agenda, meaning we need to work more than ever in achieving them. She went through a number of statistics, highlighting improvements since 2000, while emphasizing deficits to be resolved, for instance:

  • Life expectancy has increased in many parts of the world

  • 9.9 million deaths per year has decreased to 5.6 million for children under the age of 5

  • 80% of life births worldwide had the assistance of skilled personal

  • Access to electricity has more than doubled between 2000 to 2016

With that, Mrs. Iro spoke of the need for multiple stakeholders and individuals (Youthnited Nations, for instance) to get involved and work harder than ever in making change. She discussed the World Health Organization 13th General Program of Work (2019-2023) that is striving to give access to:

  • 1 billion more people enjoying better health and well-being (healthier populations)

  • 1 billion benefitting from universal health coverage (universal)

  • 1 billion more people protected from health emergencies (health emergencies)

Mrs. Iro stated the quote “What is the most important thing in the world, it is the people the people the people” – which could not be a more accurate statement, we the people are the change. I had the personal pleasure of speaking to Mrs. Iro, and can confidently say the World Health Organization is privileged to have such a wonderful leader and advocate that is focused on making global transformation in the 2030 Agenda, and recognizes the importance of youth leaders. In her own words to myself “youth are the future”.

Next up, a personal inspiration and leader that I have looked up to for several years had the opportunity to speak; Leslie Mancusco the CEO and President of JHPIEGO, which is an international NGO focused on transforming care for women and families in middle and underdeveloped countries. JHPIEGO’s mission is: “Saving lives. Improving Health, Transforming Futures”. She very clearly stated a point often overlooked, explaining that although statistics are improving (which is good news), we cannot settle, it is never ‘good news’ that children and individuals worldwide are still dying from preventable causes. As an incredibly inspiring and motivating speaker, Leslie Mancusco highlighted the International work JHPIEGO is doing every single day with over 4000 staff within their NGO, wrapping up her speech with a powerful statement: “If you don’t have a seat at the table, bring your own chair

In regards to Youthnited Nations, I had the pleasure of meeting many passionate and like-minded youth leaders from all over the World. I am confident that our globe, and organization, is in good hands with the dedication and commitment the global youth have in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and in creating worldwide change.

During my three presentations to the audience, I highlighted some facts, that in my opinion are crucial in regards to youth leaders globally; the number of youth between the ages of 15 and 24 is 1.1 billion worldwide, meaning youth constitute 18 percent of the global population, not including the other 9 years up to the age of 33 that are included in the United Nations definition of ‘youth’.

Youth and children together, including all those aged 24 years and younger, account for nearly 40 percent of the world's population. This means we have a massive opportunity and responsibility to foster leadership, to ultimately create worldwide change, and more specifically in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.

If there is one thing I can take away from this amazing opportunity it is this: yes there is deficits, yes there is issues, but with that there is also an immense amount of individuals committed to changing the future.

Lastly, I want to say a huge thank you to the World Health Organization Collaborating Centers for hosting this incredible event, and allowing Youthnited Nations to attend and present. I can confidently say this was a life-changing event for not only myself, but also many of the attendees, who are leaving this week feeling motivated to make universal change.

“What is the most important thing in the world, it is the people the people the people” - Unknown

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