By: Mathura Thevarajah
The Montreal World Health Organization Simulation was founded under the name McWHO (McGill World Health Organization Simulation) in 2007 by Martin Smoragiewicz, a McGill Medical Student, who was deeply concerned by the lack of recognition by his colleagues of the social determinants of health. Equally aware of the many professionals both in and out of health care who influenced health outcomes, the mandate of McWHO was to provide an event that allowed those passionate about health care issues and policies to challenge their assumptions, broaden their perspectives, and to develop inter-professional relationships. McWHO was based on the concept of a simulation of the World Health Organization with the idea in mind that it would offer participants the opportunity to step out into the world as a citizen of the global village while discussing health issues in a political, social, and economical context. In 2009, McWHO’s name was changed to MonWHO to reflect the population of students who participated in the conference and who was a part of the Secretariat. Today, MonWHO welcomes delegates from other parts of North America and Europe as well.
As a bit of history, the first MonWHO Simulation in 2007 was on “Access to Essential Medicines”. In 2008, resolutions passed at the simulation on “Migration of Healthcare Workers” were developed into a policy statement that was adopted by the International Federation of Medical Students Association. In 2009 the MonWHO simulation on “Environmental Health” welcomed Maude Barlow, a political activist and Senior Advisor to the president of the UN on water at the time. In 2010, resolutions passed at the MonWHO simulation on “Pandemic Preparedness” were brought to the Pan American Health Organization by keynote speaker Dr. Gina Tambini. MonWHO was also the recipient of the prestigious Forces Avenir Award in the category of Health. In 2011, the MonWHO simulation on “Maternal Health” officially launched its “Media Team”, a fully integrated and interactive press core, adding a new dimension of realism to the conference.
This year’s MonWHO theme is “Refugee Health” and the simulation will take place in Montreal from March 23-24th, 2012. This edition will give participants the opportunity to enter into the role of major players in global health policy. According to D. Hayek, current Executive Director, it is the hope of the MonWHO Secretariat that the March 2012 Simulation will not only develop interprofessional relationships between future healthcare workers and advocates, but also offer a profound learning opportunity for health-minded students in different fields.