Imagine an Olympic Games that requires the host country to not just build stadiums and infrastructure, but also to dramatically improve the health of the country’s people, wildlife and natural environment. This was the situation presented to the teams in the 2022 Intramural Emory Global Health Case Competition.
The teams played the role of country representatives, bidding to host the summer 2036 Olympic Games. Each team selected one of three host countries — India, Mexico or South Africa — and created OneHealth preparedness plans for review by judges.
The winning team was called OneIndia, or Ekta, and included students Matteo Ascherio-Victoria of Emory College of Arts and Sciences; Anuska Bhandari of Rollins School of Public Health; Kashish Kalwani of Laney Graduate School; Eva Li of Emory College; Noah Mancuso of Rollins School of Public Health; and William Wu of Goizueta Business School.
After conducting a risk assessment, the team noted a strong prevalence of diseases transmitted from animals to humans. So they created a solution that would help prevent, report and respond to such incidents.
They used this example: a person misses a rabies alert on her phone and is bitten by a stray dog. She opens the team’s OneIndia app to report the bite. Her de-identified information is sent to the OneIndia server. She receives immediate notification about where to go for a vaccine. The physician inputs her data into digital medical records, which are uploaded to the OneIndia surveillance system. The incident is reported to the regional animal response team. The team collaborates with other community organizations to focus on sterilization and vaccination efforts and works with schools and media to push for mitigation and awareness.
“I was so excited when the case topic was released,” says Mancuso, one of the Rollins members of the winning team. “I have always loved the Olympic Games. Being able to tie this passion with my interests in global health was awesome.”
Second place in the case competition went to a team representing Mexico, and included Grace Chung of Emory University School of Medicine and Laney Graduate School; Lovette Ekwebelem of Rollins School of Public Health; Alessia Kettlitz of Rollins School of Public Health; Genevieve Pritchard of Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing; Sunay Rastogi of Emory College; and Stella Zhang of Emory College.
Third place went to a team representing South Africa: Chiara Brust of Rollins School of Public Health; Liah Nguyen of Rollins School of Public Health; Anisha Sheth of Rollins School of Public Health; Roxann Thompson of Candler School of Theology; Anthony Wang of Emory College; and Wei-Hsuan Lee of Emory University School of Medicine.
The idea for the case competition was first brought to the Emory Global Health Institute in 2009 by a Student Advisory Committee member, Brian Goebel, who was then a Goizueta Business School student, says Rebecca Baggett, EGHI director of student programs. “He and some of his classmates had just won a business case competition, and he thought we could tweak the business school model by providing real-world global health challenges and having multidisciplinary student teams compete. It was a huge success, and we grew it every year.”
School of Medicine student Mariana Rodriguez Duran, whose team received honorable mention in the competition, entered “as a fun activity, to brainstorm with students of other backgrounds to find creative ways to solve global health problems that impact communities all over the world,” she says. “We wanted to better understand these problems and be able to implement positive solutions.”
The winning group received a $3,000 cash prize and went on to represent Emory in the international Emory Morningside Global Health Case Competition, which drew more than 40 teams from more than 15 countries and six continents.
That case topic — “Taking on Environmental Health Disparities: Developing Health Action Plans to Improve the Health of Indigenous Peoples” — imagined that funding had been made available for addressing health inequities in four populations: French Polynesia; Diné (Navajo); Rohingya; or Inuit.
Teams served as representatives of organizations that advocate for the rights of Indigenous peoples and develop strategies and goals for addressing environmental health disparities. A team from Yale University was named the winner.
Regardless of the results, EGHI’s case competitions are rewarding, Mancuso says.
“It was a great opportunity to meet students outside of my graduate program and put our skills to the test,” he says.