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Reflecting on LonWHO 2022 - "Pandemics: Preparedness, Response and Recovery"

Time flies, and it indeed does. Often the realities that we swore would stay with us forever seem

so far away. We recently marked the second anniversary of the first lockdown in the UK in what

was then the first wave of the novel Coronavirus Pandemic. Fast forward two years on, and several variants later, we come to a world that has seen one of the deadliest pandemics in modern times.

It has not all been doom and gloom, though. What seemed like a frightening and almost

insurmountable medical challenge brought us, the international community and the entire world together in its efforts to overcome this pandemic. Although we have made great strides to get there, I fear we are not there yet. Despite an impressive feat of modern science resulting in the fastest vaccines ever developed and brought to market, hundreds of millions are still waiting for their first jab. As much as we in the global north may feel the pandemic is long behind us, this could not be further from the truth. In fact, the world is still reeling from the social and economic impact resulting from this pandemic. Unless we can leverage the lessons learned over the past two years and coalesce around a robust and globally coordinated pandemic management strategy, we will undoubtedly be paralysed yet again by the next pandemic.

The next generation of policymakers and global health experts are tasked with building resilient healthcare systems that focus on our ability to prepare, respond, and recover from the impact of this and subsequent pandemics. That is precisely what the organizing committee at the London Model World Health Organization set out to achieve during their annual conference. After a two-year hiatus, the event brought together more than 50 participants from across the world to partake in the event at Imperial College London.

Aside from the relevance of pandemics, the event not only focused on how to build back from the

aftermath of COVID-19 but also sought to highlight and address the healthcare disparities

exacerbated by the pandemic. Delegates were divided into two separate committees focusing on

different themes. The topics ranged from managing health communication to strengthening the

global health workforce and improving access to medicines, care and vaccines. Lastly and perhaps

most importantly, was the discussion around the topic of One Planet, One Health. This topic

highlights the overlap across different sectors among them, the environment, plants and animals,

and the need to take a multidisciplinary approach to global health.

Participating and contributing to the event has been a major highlight during my time in London. As a clinician and as a current MSc candidate pursuing a degree in Global Health Policy, I found the conference to be an incredibly enriching experience. Throughout the sessions, I was able to

collaborate with delegates who are not only passionate about building better health systems but also about empowering local communities to live healthier lives. For two full days, representatives discussed, debated, and collaborated. After the sessions, and in a diplomatic fashion, we all came together over a round of pints to share our stories, backgrounds and a few laughs. At the end of the summit, and after much work, both committees successfully submitted resolutions that will be shared in the next World Health Assembly. As a first-time participant at a model WHO, I represented my country of Mexico, made friends, and learned from them. Above all, I felt reassured knowing that the next generation of Global Health leaders recognises the importance of creating a healthier and more equitable world and is unafraid to lead amidst uncertainty.

An enormous thanks to the organising committee for putting this on. Until next year, LonWHO!

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