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UNC student brings first American Mock World Health Organization to Chapel Hill

The UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health will host students from across the country this weekend for the first American Mock World Health Organization conference.

Senior public policy major Neha Acharya said she attended a mock World Health Organization conference in Montreal in January and knew she wanted to bring it to the U.S. 

At the conference, students will debate current public health issues as mock representatives from different countries around the world.

"They will see better through a public and global health lens," said Elizabeth French, the dean's liaison for special initiatives, who helped Acharya plan the event. 

The conference theme is “Health in Times of Conflict,” which Acharya said is important because with conflict, comes an array of health issues. 

AMWHO will feature presentations from UNC graduate Steven Wayling, who spent 25 years with the World Health Organization; Heather Davis, who researched diseases with UNC in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Mory Pagel, who works for the School for International Training as a study abroad global health representative. 

The school was willing to support Acharya’s plan because it provides students with an opportunity to develop leadership and connect concepts across many disciplines, French said. 

“It’s an honor that they allowed me to do this and to make my vision a reality,” Acharya said. "I'm so nervous I could throw up, but it’s not in a bad way at all."

Junior health policy and management major Mia Lei said a lot of people don’t understand how health policy actually works. 

“It’s something that’s so ingrained into our lives that we don’t even see it,” Lei said. “I’m excited for people to be able to get that experience so that in the future, if they want, they can go and effect change.” 

Acharya said she is proud that her idea brought the first model WHO in the nation to UNC and has invited people from around the country. 

The conference also spotlights UNC for students who may be considering graduate school at Gillings, Acharya said.  

This is not the only time you will be hearing about AMWHO, Acharya said.

It will be an annual conference even if it’s not always held at UNC. Emory and Yale universities have expressed an interest in hosting the event in the future, she said.  

She said technical assistants will be tweeting the hash tag #AMWHO2014 to keep people informed of what is happening during the event.

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