Career goal: Contribute to attaining universal health coverage and increasing access to health care by building well-functioning health systems.
Internship outline: Zerrin worked with the WHO’s Public Health, Innovation, and Intellectual Property department to prepare a terms of reference for evaluation of a global policy. Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPA-PHI) was ratified in 2008 and aimed to increase access and innovation to medical products and technologies for diseases disproportionally affecting people in developing countries. The GSPA-PHI has been in implementation by the WHO, Member States, and other non-government organizations. Not only is the evaluation mandated by a WHO resolution, but it is also critical for setting the future directions of the GSPA-PHI. In addition to the terms of reference, Zerrin developed the work plan and request for proposal for the evaluation. These documents set the strategy and determined the directions of the policy evaluation.
Value of experience: This experience taught me about global health policy making and diplomacy. I came to understand how WHO operates as member-driven, multi-lateral organization. I now understand that WHO is a normative and guidance setting organization, rather than an implementer. I appreciate how challenging it is to build consensus with 194 different countries, which is why policymaking can take so long. I have a much greater appreciation for the long-term nature of health policy and I have a much crisper idea of the role that I can best play in policymaking.
Best moment/experience: Attending the World Health Assembly. It was invigorating to discuss the most pressing health care issues of our time with diplomats from all over the world.
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- Flags from around the world in front of the UN Building—Palais Des Nations—where the World Health Assembly meets.
- The WHO signage hanging in the UN building during the World Health Assembly.
- The floor of the General Assembly for the World Health Assembly with the diplomats filing into their seats before the morning opening ceremony.
- The opening addresses of the World Health Assembly.
- Dinner with the Public Health, Innovation, and Intellectual Property Team. It was a fun way to get to know colleagues.
- Last day of Zerrin’s internship, capturing the moment with other interns in the hallways of the WHO.
- A weekend road trip around Switzerland and a stopover at Gruyere, where the namesake cheese is made.
- The beautiful mountains in Grindelwald.
- The PHI team in the trip to Griedelwald.
- Diplomats from around the world prepare for the World Health Assembly’s opening ceremonies.