“Nothing ever becomes real 'til it is experienced.”
― John Keats
You can imagine my excitement, as I boarded a plane for Geneva, Switzerland (home to the World Health Organization) this past spring, only two days after graduating from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.
As a business student, I had worked with social entrepreneurs and global health projects in Rwanda, India and Ecuador. In these roles, I encountered many international NGOs and their easily identified white, 4X4 vehicles. Previously, as a pediatric nurse, I had looked to the same organizations for advice and guidelines on particular health topics. Nonetheless, my understanding of these large organization’s function and purpose was limited. As I looked to create a career in Global Health, I felt I needed a more comprehensive understanding of global health policy. So, while the rest of my classmates enjoyed post-graduation celebrations, I happily journeyed to Geneva.
I arrived two days before the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) conference during which delegates from every country descend on Geneva to set the WHO’s work agenda for the upcoming year – and, hopefully, follow these mandates with financial donations to cover their cost.
The WHA was an eye-opening experience in diplomacy, negotiation and international relations. Each resolution requires unanimous approval - approval that is usually preceded by long discussions to ensure accurate wording, integrity to political aims, and equity in delivery. The output creates a framework to guide the Secretariat (i.e. WHO employees), ministries of health, and other public health organizations.
For one (very) full week, the 22 Duke Global Health Fellows attended classes arranged by Sanford Professor Anthony So.
international crisis scenario
Networking in Geneva:
“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss