Global Health Case Competition tackles sex trafficking in Atlanta

By Nathan Fioritti, University of Melbourne

Graduate students at the University of Melbourne offered solutions to the significant issue of sex trafficking in Atlanta, Georgia, USA at the annual internal Global Health Case Competition (GHCC) on October 14.

The local take on the international competition serves as preparation for the GHCC held at Emory University in Atlanta next year, where the six best performing participants will now represent the University on the global stage.

The winning team (L to R): David Cherian, Michael Coffey, Yun Hu, Vicky Chen, Swathi Nagesh, and Tess Hall.

The four competing teams comprised of graduate students selected from various disciplines across the University. The winning team (pictured above) included Vicky Chen (Doctor of Medicine), David Cherian (Master of Public Health), Michael Coffey (PhD in Medical Research), Tess Hall (Doctor of Philosophy), Yun Hu (Master of Biotechnology), and Swathi Nagesh (Masters in International Relations).

It is estimated that 234 to 831 girls are sexually exploited in Georgia every month. On average, these girls are 12-14 years old. Those exploited in Atlanta, described as a ‘sex trafficking hub’ in the case brief, overwhelmingly come from disadvantaged cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The case, written by students at Emory for the University’s own local competition, was released on September 26. The four teams were then given just under three weeks to prepare a comprehensive solution to present to the judges. On the day of the competition, a twist was presented to the two finalist teams who are given an hour to adjust their solution in response.

The solution the winning team proposed involved education and mentorship programs targeted at young African American girls most at risk of becoming victims of sexual exploitation. The team tackled the twist—which was to adopt a greater focus on gang involvement in sex trafficking—by including those likely to get involved in the programs as well.

The team chosen to compete in Atlanta (L to R): Tess Hall, David Cherian, Nathan Chua, Vicky Chen, Erich Chang, and Michela Winters.

The students selected to compete in Emory were chosen based on individual performance, peer assessment, and the need for a diverse range of academic backgrounds. The team advancing to Atlanta (pictured above) includes Vicky, David, and Tess, from the winning team, as well as Erich Chang (Juris Doctor), Nathan Chua (Doctor of Medicine), and Michela Winters (Master of Food Science).

The judges for the Melbourne GHCC this year were: Sarah Goss, Director of S. J. Spencer Consulting; Nathan Grills, public health physician and global health Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne; Fiona Williams, Child Safeguarding/Protection Advisor for Save the Children Australia; and Jennifer Lacy-Nichols, PhD student and captain of last year’s third-place Emory GHCC team.

The Faculty congratulates all participants on their hard work and wishes the team going to Emory next year the best of luck.