World Health Students’ Alliance

presents you with

Meaningful Youth Participation and Fair Internships
Policy Brief

World Health Students’ Alliance


The World Health Students’ Alliance advocates for
Meaningful Youth Participation and considers its
presence in WHO EB meeting as an opportunity to
harness the power of collaboration between students
worldwide and to encourage youth involvement in
Global Health. We are honored to present you this
policy brief about Meaningful youth participation and
fair internship opportunities for the youth.

Fair Internship Initiative

The World Health Students’ Alliance is the largest
interprofessional healthcare alliance. The current
Alliance is a partnership between the following
organisations: the International Association of Dental
Students (IADS), the International Federation of
Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), the
International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation
(IPSF) and the International Veterinary Students’
Association (IVSA). WHSA was established to bring
together all healthcare students to share their
experiences and to better address health challenges
facing the society. The partner organisations believe
that as the most active part of a society, students have
the will and power to make the world a better place.

Youth Delegates in High
Level Meetings
Having youth delegates in high level meetings
The WHSA introduces the idea of having youth
delegates regularly present at the WHO high level
meetings. Incorporating youth delegates into these
meetings proves to be useful on several levels.
Firstly, this could be an efficient way to build a
stronger, more motivated global health network. The
WHSA can be taken as an interdisciplinary alliance
comprising a huge amount of future health
professionals. Having youth delegates at WHO
meetings would create a chance to hear the ideas of
these future professionals and work together
towards better solutions.
Secondly, this is an opportunity to incorporate future
healthcare professionals into working towards
commonly set goals. Communicating directly with
youth delegates means educating medical, dental,
pharmaceutical and veterinary students globally.
This will help to develop a competent and efficient
workforce to achieve global goals such as the healthrelated Sustainable Development Goals.
Thirdly, diversity generates new ideas thus helping
to amend current projects and create new ones.
Programs created for students such as the WHO
Internships need to become better and develop
further. Students are the ones who are encouraged
to participate in these projects but they should also
be incorporated into creating suitable projects to

Students all over the world continue their
commitments to fight for human rights, adequate
education, healthier communities and a brighter
future. The World Health Students’ Alliance is
committed to strengthening the meaningful youth
engagement of our students. The four student
organizations in this alliance are committed to
advocate for the best interests of our communities,
to improve the culture related to health professions
collaboration and to work together in common
advocacy topics related to global health. The
WHSA partners thrive for youth involvement, which
is vital to help develop sustainable positive health
outcomes; as youth are some of the most powerful
change agents in the world.

Accessible Internships
for Health Students
Having youth delegates in high level meetings
WHO’s internship programme has been in place since
1966. The scheme benefits the organization in that it
introduces a young work force at the cutting-edge of
their fields, while interns themselves gain professional
skills, experience and networks.
Unfortunately, in the current format, an internship at
the WHO is a privilege reserved for those with
considerable financial resources. WHO Headquarters
and Regional Offices are situated in some of the most
expensive cities in the world. Without stipends or pay,
these internships have become largely inaccessible to
students and young professionals from lower
socioeconomic backgrounds. Indeed, the most
recently available statistics show that almost 80% of
interns at HQ come from countries with a very high
human development index, with a total 98% having
completed their tertiary education there. Given that
less than 30% of unpaid UN interns report receiving
any financial support from a third party such as their
university, this status quo can be easily explained.
Even those who make it into the organization often
find themselves in precarious situations as a result of
the difficulties faced in, for example, finding health
insurance, while in Geneva the average intern’s
monthly budget places them well below the poverty
As students and young professionals, we are
motivated by our desire to work towards the
realization of the ideals set out in WHO’s governing
charter. It is our sincere belief that the attainment of
these goals relies on a global and socioeconomically
diverse workforce at the heart of global health
governance. UN agencies including the International
Labor Organization, International Organization of
Migration and UNOPS have all moved towards a
payment or stipend model without significant
budgetary increases. In your efforts to more actively
involve young people from all over the world in WHO’s
vital work, the provision of financial support for interns
from lower socioeconomic backgrounds must
therefore play a central role.