Emory Global Health Case Competition: A winning experience of a Bangladeshi PhD student from U of T

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A multidisciplinary team of University of Toronto graduate students placed second and received the Participants’ Choice Award after competing against 23 teams from international institutions at the 2017 Emory Global Health Case Competition on March 25, 2017.

The student team consisted of six graduate students from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, the Rotman School of Management and the Faculty of Law who presented their case: ProVision: Addressing Adolescents’ Mental Health Needs in Monrovia, Liberia.

Shamim Ahmed, a PhD student in Social and Behavioural Health Sciences at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto

One of the participating students Mr. Shamim Ahmed from Bangladesh is a regular columnist of News Hour.

“The competition sounded like a great opportunity to look at a global health problem through an interdisciplinary perspective, and I was hopeful that I would learn valuable skills outside of a public health framework from my teammates,” said Corey McAuliffe, a third year Social and Behavioural Health Sciences PhD student, reflecting on why she decided to enter the competition and lead the team.

The team was additionally comprised of: Shamim Ahmed (first year PhD – Social and Behavioural Health Sciences), Tina-Marie Assi (second year MBA at Rotman School of Management), Gillian Cook (second-year JD/MBA at the Faculty of Law and Rotman School of Management), Mónica Rosas Calderón (first year MBA at Rotman School of Management), and Christopher Tait (third-year PhD – Epidemiology).

“Our Rotman team members helped the public health students to understand design thinking, which was incredibly influential to our process and final intervention,” said McAuliffe.

Assi said the group’s presentation style and approach to the problem may have helped them secure the runner-up position. “I suspect what made our presentation stand out was our use of storytelling and a user-centric design process, which came out in our slides and delivery,” she said.

Some moments from the event

Every spring, Emory University hosts 24 teams from universities across the globe for five days during which each team develops a solution for a global health case, competes for cash prizes, and networks with each other and expert judges.

The team developed a four-pronged strategy to reduce stigmatization of mental illness and special needs (e.g. physical and mental disorders) among adolescents in Monrovia, Liberia by focusing on education, mental health literacy, and increasing the pathways to health care. It combined radio programming, a mental health telephone helpline, community events, and listening groups to deliver mental health education, address isolation, as well as promote social cohesion and youth empowerment.

“It was extraordinary to watch the students come together as a team — I have never seen a group model the ideals of multidisciplinary collaboration so well,” said Uttam Bajwa, a post-doctoral fellow in DLSPH’s Office of Global Public Health Education and Training, who served as the team’s mentor.

Bajwa supported the team in Atlanta during their case presentation and what set the group apart, she said, was how their model was evidence-based, involved rich community consultation, and demonstrated sensitivity to power, politics, and privilege in global health work, especially the need for meaningful, mutually beneficial partnerships.

“My congratulations to our outstanding case competition team for developing a compelling evidence-based solution to a wicked global health problem,” said Erica Di Ruggiero, Director of the Office of Global Public Health Education and Training.

 

Shamim Ahmed is a first year PhD student in Social and Behavioural Health Sciences at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health with experience in policy, advocacy, and communication. Prior to coming to the DLSPH, Shamim worked in the health and development sector in Bangladesh for almost 9 years. He also has an MPH from James P Grant School of Public Health and Post Graduate Diploma at the University of Amsterdam. Details about the other team members are available here.

Shamim shared the experience of the public health competition at the Emory University. He informed that a team of public health students at U of T developed a four-pronged strategy to reduce stigmatization of mental illness and special needs in Liberia to secure second place in a global competition at Emory University. Their strategy combined radio programming, a mental health telephone helpline, community events and listening groups to deliver mental health education, address isolation, as well as promote social cohesion and youth empowerment.

A multidisciplinary team of University of Toronto graduate students presented their case: ProVision: Addressing Adolescents’ Mental Health Needs in Monrovia, Liberia, at the 2017 Emory Global Health Case Competition on March 25. They also received the Participants’ Choice Award.

Shamim also shared his experience as a new PhD student in Canada and migration from Bangladesh. At the end of the interview, he also highlighted the change in the scenario of public health globally.

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This article has been posted by a News Hour Correspondent. For queries, please contact through [email protected]
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