World Conference on Women


Topic Summary

Topic: Access to Healthcare for Displaced Persons

Displaced persons constitute a tremendous portion of the world’s population, and yet they often live in some of the worst conditions that humans anywhere endure. Imagine a group of people, more populous than the United Kingdom, who have all been driven from their homes by circumstances beyond their control; they lack a government of their own and strong institutions to turn to in times of need, with the result that many refugees never get the help that they require. The duty to protect the rights and wellbeing of the 68 million forcibly displaced individuals across the world often falls necessarily into the hands of international bodies like the United Nations. In the World Health Organization specifically, we will work together to improve the accessibility and quality of healthcare in all its forms for displaced persons. By developing international guidelines for the care of refugees, the WHO can directly affect the physical livelihood of millions of people worldwide.

Our committee sessions will involve taking creative and thoughtful approaches to health-related problems that plague refugees every day. How can we help displaced persons access pre-existing sources of quality care when they have no insurance, little money, and no citizenship? In cases where pre-existing options do not exist, how can we organize the direct providing of care? Sanitation, especially as it pertains to the spread of infections diseases, also poses serious problems in densely populated refugee communities. Given that many refugees come from war-torn or otherwise traumatic backgrounds, it is important as well to consider how to offer immediate assistance for those who may be injured. Likewise, how could the international community work to treat mental illnesses like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? With these concerns and more in mind, we will work to come up with ways to improve the healthcare situation for displaced persons across the international community.

Director’s Letter

Dear Delegates,

Hello everyone! My name is Connor Dowd, and I am a sophomore at Harvard College. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as the Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) at HMUN 2019! I attended MUN conferences as a delegate throughout high school and was an Assistant Director of the Historical Security Council at HMUN last year, but I’ve never been more excited for a conference than I am for this 2019 iteration of HMUN. I’ve spent the past few months preparing to direct this committee in the hopes that it will be a rewarding, thought-provoking, and, most importantly, enjoyable experience for all those involved.

I grew up in suburban Massachusetts in a little town called Norfolk, located about 30 miles south of Boston. One of my hometown’s many perks was its close proximity to Gillette Stadium, home of the (wildly successful) New England Patriots! If you haven’t guessed already, I’m a big Boston sports fan and, unfortunately for fans of rival teams, I will not hesitate to revel in the glory of our constant stream of championships. I played soccer, hockey, and baseball and also ran track at various points throughout high school, and still enjoy playing and watching these sports in my free time. My other interests and hobbies revolve around food (eating it, not so much cooking it), pre-2017 Taylor Swift music, reading, writing, and The Office. Please feel free to ask me for any restaurant recommendations in the Greater Boston Area — I have spent much of my early life compiling a long list. I love to travel as well, and had the incredible opportunity to live in Buenos Aires for two months this past summer as I worked on environmental policy as an intern for a local NGO.

At Harvard, I live in Leverett House and plan to pursue a concentration in Applied Math with Economics, although I also love studying biology and chemistry; hence, directing the WHO could not be better suited to my interests! Besides my involvement with HMUN, I write for the Harvard Crimson and volunteer as a tutor for elementary and middle school students in Boston. I also work as a course assistant within the math department. When I’m not doing any of these things, you are likely to find me playing Wii Sports with friends, reading outside in one of the college’s many grassy courtyards, or drinking iced coffee from the Dunkin Donuts in the subway station (Harvard Square’s best coffee, hands down).

The condition of displaced persons is one which international bodies have an obligation to monitor and, when necessary, improve. Forced from their homes, refugees across the world find themselves isolated and lacking a government or their own to look out for their best interests. Problems related to disease, sanitation, sexual health, and more run rampant in communities of displaced persons and yet often go unaddressed because of the alienated status of the individuals who suffer from them. In this assembly of the WHO, I am hopeful that we can think critically about the health concerns present in refugee communities and put forth effective solutions to the problems that plague them.

Welcome to HMUN 2019 and to the WHO! I am excited to work with you all!



Connor Dowd

Director, World Health Organization