APHA Student Member Attends World Health Assembly in May

By McGill, Natalie | The Nation's Health, August 2014 | Go to article overview

APHA Student Member Attends World Health Assembly in May


McGill, Natalie, The Nation's Health


IT WAS ONE THING to be nominated to attend the annual World Health Assembly in Geneva, but when Rachael Mitchell, MPH, APHA's Student Assembly secretary-elect, got the call three weeks before the trip that she was officially going, her emotions got the best of her.

"That was my very first time crying for joy," Mitchell told The Nation's Health. "It's something I never thought of until I was nominated. And I didn't realize how big of a deal it was until I researched it some more to figure out exactly what it was and then I thought 'Oh my gosh, am I even qualified for this?'"

The World Health Assembly, held May 19-24, is an annual international meeting of official health delegates from around the world who present research and debate and pass resolutions affecting global health.

But Mitchell had no reason to be nervous. The Loma Linda University doctorate in public health student is the kind of young health professional the Department of Health and Human Services-led U.S. delegation wanted on its trip as an effort to engage more youth in global public health issues, said Vina HuLamm, MS, global health manager for APHA's Center for Professional Development, Public Health Systems and Partnerships. Mitchell, who was nominated by APHA, traveled as a private sector advisor in a U.S. delegation led by then-HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Other APHA members also engaged in discussions in Geneva.

"Their request was for an exceptional student leader, who did not have to have a background in global health, because the whole intent of this experience was to give them a broader perspective," HuLamm told The Nation's Health.

Mitchell attended a pre-assembly workshop for youth organized by the International Federation of Medical Students' Association. During the workshop, she attended panels that discussed topics such as access to medicines, non-communicable diseases and the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals. The Millennium Development Goals, established in 2000 after the United Nations Millennium Summit, are a set of eight international goals to reach by 2015, which include improving maternal health and reducing child mortality.

Mitchell said what she found most helpful in the workshop was being able to get a chance to look through policy statements and identify issues she was passionate about and provide input. …

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