World Health Organization



Topic One: Organ Trade and Trafficking

In many instances, organ failure can only be treated via organ transplantation. Although the shortage of organ tissues for such transplants are a universal problem worldwide, access to transplant organs is strongly contingent on each nations health situation, costs and availability of organs. Many cases of medical transplantations involve the use of organs from deceased donors, and although the use of organs from live donors is widely accepted and practiced, the process of commercially selling organs is illegal and prohibited in many countries. The increased demand for organs and the apparent shortage has facilitated the proliferation of organ trafficking, alarming the international community and calling for global policy-making strategies to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable organ sellers’.

“Transplant Tourism,” the process of organ recipients travelling to foreign countries to obtain the transplantation organs, outlines the way by which most organ trade transactions are performed, as well as where they are performed. As the WHO outlines, the term appears“contentious as it disregards the patients”desperate motives and fails to reflect ethical issues. However, it is used in resolution WHA 57.18 and in international health policy discussion to refer to overseas transplantation when a patient obtains an organ through the “organ trade.” Although transplant tourism is prevalent across the globe, some countries are considered organ-exporting countries (i.e. referring to the local origin of organ “donors”) whereas others are deemed as organ-importing due to the large numbers of organ recipients. In some cases, the ‘organ sellers’ may themselves too be brought into a different country for the trade to occur. For example, the WHO reports that more than 100 illegal kidney transplants were performed at St. Augustine Hospital in South Africa in 2001 and 2002; most of the recipients came from Israel, while the donors were from eastern Europe and Brazil. Although the issue receives continuous international attention, enforcing legal mechanisms and actions to shut the black market and curtail the trafficking remain lacking. The complexity of the issue is also poorly understood due to the scarcity of available, reliable data.

Adapted from: Bulletin of World Health Organization – Past Issues: The state of the international organ trade: a provisional picture based on integration of available information by Yosuke Shimazono


Things to consider:
  • Organ Tourism
  • Why do people donate?
  • Legalization of organ trade
  • Awareness among buyers
  • Anti trafficking policies
  • Post Donation Complications
  • Data tracking and research


Topic Two: Universal Health Coverage As A Right

With global populations on the rise and the demand for medical treatment continuing to rise around the world, it brings about the question to whether or not it is a fundamental human right to be able to have access to healthcare in the 21st century? Now, this topic is very complicated and highly political in both domestic and international politics, but for HSMUN, delegates should be taking a global perspective of how global healthcare relates to their countries foreign policy.

The World Health Organization in the past has debated this topic, and in 2012 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that endorsed the goal of universal health coverage and gave it a high place on the development agenda. The resolution was sponsored by more than 90 countries, from every region of the world, and adopted by consensus. The resolution urged the Member States to develop health systems that avoid significant direct payments at the point of care. In addition to this WHO is calling on world leaders to live up to the pledges, they made when they agreed on the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, and commit to concrete steps to advance “HealthForAll.” This means ensuring that everyone, everywhere can access essential quality health services without facing financial hardship.

Even with these pledges made as of December 2017, at least half of the world’s population cannot obtain essential health services, according to a new report from the World Bank and WHO. Moreover, each year, large numbers of households are being pushed into poverty because they must pay for health care out of their own pockets. Currently, 800 million people spend at least 10 percent of their household budgets on health expenses for themselves, a sick child or other family members. This raises many questions about if the international community is doing enough in providing people with the opportunity to seek affordable health care.


Things to consider:
  • The need for a greater reliance on public spending from domestic sources to make progress towards UHC.
  • The transition to greater domestic financing and integration of service delivery is a key challenge facing a growing number of countries.
  • The need to address fragmentation in health financing arrangements (both across health coverage schemes and across types of health services) to drive efficiency and value for money;
    Coverage policies: the way in which benefits are designed can explain significant differences in financial hardship across countries.
  • Monitoring financial protection is vital to ensure continued progress towards UHC. The way financial protection is defined and measured has important policy consequences.


Questions to answer:
  • What does universal health coverage mean?
  • What is needed to achieve it?
  • What services should be included?
  • How can it be financed?
  • What are the impacts of universal healthcare on a society?