A Glimpse into the Real World of Global Health

Undergraduate and graduate students compete at UC Berkeley’s first ever Intermural Global Health Case Competition

by Rachel Crowley

On February 27th, undergraduate and graduate students across multiple disciplines came together for a single reason: to address the smoking epidemic in the North Sumatra region of Indonesia. During UC Berkeley’s first ever Intramural Global Health Case Competition held by the Center for Global Health, participating students were given the week-long task of devising a presentation that delivered a cost-effective, time-efficient, and clear plan for decreasing the prevalence of smoking in Indonesia. Winning teams from various intramural competitions around the world will then come together to compete at the international competition at Emory University in April.

Students were first asked to create a team that included students from at least three different colleges on campus, such as Haas School of Business, the College of Natural Resources, and the College of Letters and Science, in order to promote integrative thinking and create global health solutions that encompass various points of view. Once the prompt of the competition was released the Sunday prior to the competition, nine teams began putting their passion for global health into action, working to create a winning solution and presentation.

On the day of the competition, each team presented for 13 minutes and competed for a spot in the final round. During the final round, the judges deliberated to choose a single winning team after hearing the top three finalists’ presentations again. In the end, the team comprised of members Aarti Kumar, Hemaxi Desai, Nehaa Khadka, Jennifer Liu, Anchal Ahuja, and Tyler Schmeckpeper was chosen because they delivered an effective solution and clear presentation incorporating the use of education, media outreach, and community collaboration to decrease smoking in Indonesia. The team also created a visual of an actual mobile app that they hoped to implement in the North Sumatra Region during their presentation.

Each team was competing for the opportunity to move on to the International Global Health Case Competition held at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. It was not until 2010 that Emory University opened up the competition to include students from other U.S. universities. The overall goal of this competition is to increase awareness of 21st century global health issues and promote the development of solutions through the minds of graduate and undergraduate students from various schools and disciplines.

Through this experience, participating students were able to gain exposure to the real life processes of global health decision-making and teamwork with representatives from various disciplines.

“I gained a more worldly perspective, especially academically. Working with people from so many different fields helped me realize that there are many sides to a problem,” said Aruna Menon, a team member from one of the finalist teams.

The competition stressed the importance of collaboration in global health and showed the potential and passion of many students to create health change.

“I thought that I was looking at some of the future leaders in the global health space and they are not necessarily going to be physicians or health care professionals or Ph.Ds… but they are all going to take a big role in addressing big global health issues like tobacco cessation,” said Dr. Phuoc Le, a judge at the event.

This year’s winning team will be competing at the upcoming international competition this April with the hope of carrying on the legacy of the international competition’s winning group from UC Berkeley last year.