Guyana joins lobby for reform of WHO global internship programme

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Guyana’s Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence was among other country representatives who have lobbied the World Health Organisation (WHO) to the reform their global internship programme.

A gathering of WHO member states in discussion during the hosting of the 71st World Health Assembly which was held in Geneva, Switzerland from May 21 to 26, 2018.

According to the Department of Public Information (DPI), this was done through the submission of a draft resolution proposed by Algeria, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines and South Africa.

The request for the reformation of the internship has been deemed as timely and necessary by the member states, subscribing to the resolution. The transformed programme will focus on overhauling all recruitment procedures while providing adequate financial support to interns, particularly from low-income countries, DPI said.

The draft resolution also proposes the introduction of a semi-structured curriculum to maximise the benefits of the internship. This restructuring aims to increase the number of interns from developing countries who are afforded the opportunity to work with WHO.

The internship provides a framework for assigning postgraduate students from diverse academic backgrounds to WHO programmes. This, in turn, enhances their educational experience through practical assignments.

Most students are placed in health-related programmes, although other disciplines can be considered as appropriate such as communication, external relations or human resources. More specifically for Guyana, this would mean that persons, specialising or working in the field of public health, can have equal opportunity and access to the internship programme.

The draft resolution document submitted to the World Health Assembly 2018 indicated that progress towards the attainment of universal health coverage, the need for effective public health leadership, resilient health systems and strong health workforce capacity were examined.

The WHO’s internship is one of the most high-profile junior professional training programmes in global health. Previous findings suggested it is inaccessible to young professionals from developing countries.

In May 2016, WHO published, for the first time, full statistics concerning Member State participation on the internship programme. These statistics show that only 15 percent of interns at WHO headquarters were from developing countries. Almost 60 percent of WHO Member States had no nationals participating in the entire programme as of the same period.

 

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