Welcoming teams from across the Indo-Pacific region for the Global Health Case Competition
The Melbourne School of Population and Global Health and the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, in partnership with Emory University, Nous Consulting, and the Australian Global Health Alliance, welcomed 20 student teams from six countries for the 2023 University of Melbourne Indo-Pacific Global Health Case Competition.
(L-R) Professor Nancy Baxter, Head of the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Professor Jane Gunn AO, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, Professor Nicola Phillips, Provost at the University of Melbourne, and Professor Nathan Grills with the winning team from Universitas Gadjah Mada (on screen).
The Indo-Pacific Global Health Case Competition gives multidisciplinary student teams two weeks to develop and then present a response to a global health challenge involving multiple economic, cultural, and geographical complexities to a panel of expert judges.
For this year’s competition, students were tasked with developing a targeted intervention to address childhood nutrition Kiribati, an island nation in the central Pacific Ocean. Teams were encouraged to consider innovative interdisciplinary approaches that are culturally appropriate and sustainable.
Student teams were tasked with responding to a complex global health problem using interdisciplinary approaches.
For the first time, student teams from across the Indo-Pacific region were invited to participate in the University of Melbourne competition, enabling cross-country and cross-cultural collaboration.
“I really enjoyed working in a multidisciplinary team as everyone was able to contribute their own ideas to help build a solution to the case relevant to their area of expertise,” said Priyasha Sanyal, a second-year Bachelor of Biomedicine student at the University of Melbourne who participated in the competition.
“We also had the opportunity to meet students from across the Indo-Pacific, including Thailand, India and Fiji, and it was fascinating to learn about the different approaches to the case that were informed by different socio-cultural backgrounds.”
“Each team brought a new perspective to the same problem, and it was great to learn about everyone’s ideas while networking between presentations.”
Students enjoyed the opportunity to network in between presentations.
In addition to presenting their responses to the case, participants attended a workshop led by Rob Moodie, a Professor of Public Health at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, where he expressed the importance of leadership, teamwork, and interpersonal skills.
During the workshop, participants were invited to share their personal reflections on working in an interdisciplinary team, the importance of leadership, and what they learned about themselves during the competition.
“Living in a developing country, we are used to the idea of receiving ideas to solve public health challenges from other countries,” reflected one student from the Divine Word University in Papua New Guinea.
“This experience showed us that we can contribute to health solutions not only for ourselves, but for other countries as well.”
Students engaged in a short workshop hosted by Professor Rob Moodie.
Participating teams also heard from competition judge Tearinaki Tanielu, an advisor to the Kiribati Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
“In Kiribati, to say ‘hello’, we say ‘mauri’. However, ‘mauri’ actually translates to ‘health’, and it stems from a practice in Kiribati to bless each other with good health when greeting each other,” he said.
“The solutions that have been presented today are very important to this aspiration and to this important part of our culture.”
Professor Nicola Phillips, Provost at the University of Melbourne, presented the prize for the top overall team to Universitas Gadjah Mada in Indonesia, with two teams from the University of Melbourne receiving second and third place. The Public Health Foundation of India in Delhi won the international team award, which Professor Phillips will present to the students in-person during her upcoming visit to India.
“It’s so important that students from universities across the world have the opportunity to come together and collaborate like this,” she said.
“It’s hard to not feel profoundly optimistic about the future when we have this kind of initiative and this kind of promise.”
Nathan Grills, a Professor of Global Health at the Nossal Institute who together with Dr Esther Schroeder led the organisation of the competition, was pleased to see teams from across the region come together.
“It was great to bring together teams from six countries to think about a complex global health problem, and I hope students took away new learnings and new friends from the experience,” he said.
“Unique regional events such as this competition enable us to strengthen our connections with universities and research institutes overseas, facilitating the important collaborations needed to address global health challenges.”
Students were invited to share their reflections on participating in the competition.
Selected teams from last week’s competition will have the opportunity to travel to the United States next year to compete in the prestigious Emory Morningside Global Health Case Competition in Atlanta.
Dr Rebecca Martin, Vice President for Global Health at Emory University and Director of the Emory Global Health Institute, is a strong believer in the benefits of case competitions to inspire deeper thinking about global health.
“There’s so much value in bringing together individuals from different disciplines to work together, learn new areas of work and learn how others think,” she said.
“I look forward to welcoming the winning team from the University of Melbourne to our competition next year, and to forming closer collaborations with the University into the future.”