Jack Fisher

Technical Officer at the WHO
BSc (Hons) Human Biology with Sociology and Psychology, 2013

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GCU graduate, Jack Fisher has a leading role in the development of the first community-driven platform for the WHO.

The WHO Knowledge Action Portal (KAP) brings people together, in an interactive online community, allowing them to combine and collaborate on knowledge, skills, and perspectives, and find the common goals to beat noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

We caught up with Jack in his current role as Technical Officer at the WHO to find out what he has done in the six years since graduating.

What aspired you to follow your career path and was it something you thought of during your studies?

I know it may sound a bit grandiose, but I think there was always a draw for working towards something greater than oneself. Those who know me best describe me as a pragmatic optimist. However long I’m here on earth, I want to try and have a positive impact on human health, whilst supporting larger global goals such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The more I have experienced and learned from working in health, both nationally and globally, I have felt growing gratitude for the opportunities I have been personally provided through my individual health, education and professional development. Alongside this has been a growing frustration at the social injustices individuals face—often the poorest and most disadvantaged, are unable to live a healthy and fulfilled life. With this in mind, I strive to make the most impact as possible through a lens of empowerment.

I think it’s fair to say that this perspective has been a result of the last 10 years of growing and learning as an individual both personally and professionally. It’s a testament to GCU’s vision towards a common good alongside the many people who I’m inspired by and learn from including family and friends to teachers, colleagues, and mentors from around the world.

Can you tell me more about your current role?

Currently, I’m a Technical Officer at the World Health Organization’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. I’m working within an innovative platform called the Global Coordination Mechanism on the Prevention and Control of NCDs (GCM/NCD). It connects and convenes more than 400 Governments, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and private sector organizations together through a range of global activities such as high-level dialogues, advocacy campaigns, expert working groups and establishing new progressive tools.

What current projects are you working on and what impacts do/will they have?

When I joined WHO, I wanted to support the Organization’s current transformation efforts going forward, which includes bold and progressive approaches to effective knowledge dissemination and engagement, and translating this into collaborative action. As a result, I have been leading the development of the WHO KAP. It’s the first community-driven platform of its kind, both allowing different stakeholders to submit information, best practices and innovative solutions through the platform, whilst actively listening and adapting to the wants and needs of the community.

It was launched late last year and we are taking a phased approach to development with many exciting additions planned, including it becoming the first WHO platform to integrate artificial intelligence.

Ultimately, we hope the platform will become a central hub (or ‘one stop shop’) for NCD information, interaction and inspiration.

What type of impact do you want to make in the world?

Simply put, it would be to improve the health of the poorest and most disadvantaged in society whilst supporting the broader global health sustainable development goals. Whether that be supporting different stakeholders on the global level around collaboration and partnerships, or empowering peers, professionals and patients to ensure they have the skills to support others or make individual informed health choices. Hopefully, I can contribute to a wider effort to make that a reality.

To quote American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

What are your hopes?

I hope that we can emulate the huge advances in science and technology across the last 50 years, to the further benefit of human health and global civilisation. Whether that will be utilising new technologies to ensure access to healthcare to the hardest to reach populations, developing new medicines to treat the most devastating and debilitating diseases, or empowering new audiences to contribute to a just world through health, education, democracy or climate action.

At times, it can be difficult to keep optimistic with rising rates of disease, inequalities widening, global temperatures soaring, public discourse becoming increasingly polarized, and immovable economic frameworks. However, when we reflect on the human history we can take inspiration for many others, gifting us with the opportunity to be the generation who can right the wrongs and improve the health of generations to come.

What advice would you give current students and new graduates?

Three, interrelated things come to mind:

  1. Utilise your youthful energy and passion to push boundaries of what is conventionally acceptable. As the next generation of leaders, it’s your role to ruffle a few feathers and grab people’s attention. Many things need to change in the world. Young people are the key to both highlighting and instigating change.
  2. Follow projects and people who get you passionate and productive. If it’s between taking the safe option with better pay versus a new startup with less pay, then the latter may provide a range of short and long term benefits – including personal and professional growth. Those safer options will always be there.
  3. Stick to your principals and wider vision around innovation and impact. There will be many people who will question what you are trying to do, how you are doing it, and what it’s contributing to. The reality is when you try something new, it’s natural to have new questions, scenarios and challenges arise. Work with those around you to address those questions and concerns, whilst maintaining those core values which you hold.