WHO Simulation Workshop 101

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established on April 7, 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group. Its predecessor, the Health Organization, was an agency of the League of Nations.

The World Health Assembly is the legislative and supreme body of WHO. Based in Geneva, it typically meets yearly in May. It appoints the Director-General every five years and votes on matters of policy and finance of WHO, including the proposed budget. It also reviews reports of the Executive Board and decides whether there are areas of work requiring further examination.

A WHO Simulation is just what it sounds like: a simulation of a meeting of the WHO World Health Assembly (which will be referred to as the General Assembly or GA in this guide). This means that delegates come prepared to take on the role of a representative from a certain country, company, NGO, the press or an important individual, and, while staying true to that role, debate, discuss, and write up motions known as resolutions, that are to be voted on by the committee.

The topics to be discussed are global health topics — the past, present, or future — and delegates have the opportunity to think of solutions to enduring global health issues.

What’s more, WHO simulations are political simulations, which means that delegates, in pursuing their roles, will come into conflict, make allies and enemies, engage in public and back-room dealing, cajole and coerce, compromise and stand their ground, and use all the other tricks of the diplomatic trade to attain the goals inherent in their individual roles. The style of the debate itself is also simulated: at the front of the room, a dais – those who chair the committee – conduct the debate according to correct UN procedure. This provides not only an extra level of immersion but a way to keep a meeting of more than a hundred delegates running smoothly.

To sum it all up, a WHO Simulation is a Model United Nations (Model UN) focused on the work of the WHO; it is a global health conference meant to simulate the political, social, cultural and economic realities that define the world of global health policy and diplomacy. Finally, the simulation is targeted towards future health professionals but should be open to students from many programs, to encourage interprofessional education and collaboration

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