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UAB has been sending teams to compete at the Emory Morningside Global Health Case Competition, since the very beginning. Student teams travel from universities across the US as well as other countries to present their best response to each year's new and challenging case. The 2021 Emory GHCC happened virtually with more teams than ever competing. Two students from the UAB team share their experiences:

Divya Annamalai, team captain -- undergraduate student in Neuroscience & graduate certificate in Global Health

The Emory Morningside Global Health Case Competition is an annual competition that allows graduate and undergraduate students to collaborate and create interventions to tackle global health issues abroad. This year, our six member team was tasked with the challenge of creating a vaccination program for either Bangladesh, Brazil, Japan, or Nigeria. Our team picked Bangladesh as our country of focus, and since the competition was virtual, we needed to submit a video presentation of our intervention and how it improved vaccine hesitancy and distribution among the general public and Rohingya refugees.

In all honesty, I was quite daunted by this year’s case. COVID-19 is such a current global health issue and we needed to address it in one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Luckily, we had the full support and encouragement from our mentors at the Sparkman center: Dr. Anna Helova, Dr. Meredith Gartin, and Katie Adams. As soon the case was released, our mentors helped set up meetings with accredited UAB professors with experience working with refugees and in low income settings. We met with three professors that week and regularly checked in with our mentors, which helped us better understand the case and prepare for the competition.


I found the case competition to be an extremely rewarding experience. The competition gave me an avenue to apply the global health knowledge I have gained from my classes as part of the graduate certificate in global health and my other extracurriculars. Meeting with various global health professionals and discussions within our team taught me a lot about the importance of fostering partnerships and having cultural competence when approaching societal inequities abroad, and also how to think critically about approaching health disparities.

For those competing in the Emory case competition in future years, a piece of advice I would give you is to get to know your team. Our team had to meet over zoom, but in a post pandemic future, I would highly stress meeting in person the week before the competition to learn about each other and everyone’s strengths. I would also say to plan early! Schedule times in advance to meet with your mentors and arrange your faculty meetings.

My experience representing UAB at the Emory Morningside Global Health Case Competition was such a memorable and enriching experience, and I think anyone no matter their field of study, would also agree. I’m glad to have been able to participate in the competition with Emma Kate, Jillur, Hannah, Molly and Porsha, and hope to take what I have learned from this experience and apply it to my work in the future.

 Watch the team's presentation - YouTube link

Hannah Reyes, graduate student in Epidemology (MPH), and graduate certificate in Global Health

As a fully online MPH Epidemiology student, I am always excited for opportunities to collaborate with students, professors, and experts to find solutions to real-world problems. The Emory Global Health Case Competition provided me with that opportunity and more.

The Emory Global Health Case Competition is an international event where teams compete to develop and present a practical solution to global health issues from an interdisciplinary lens. This year, the Emory Competition required teams to develop a plan to decrease vaccine hesitancy and increase COVID-19 vaccine distribution in a middle or low-income country. With the help of the Sparkman Center, our team spoke to many experts to brainstorm how to address this problem. These conversations helped take classroom topics, such as the socioecological model, and bring it to life while creating country-wide initiatives for resource-poor settings.

The competition and team meetings were held over zoom this year, which allowed for students from all life stages to join. Our team included MPH students, Bachelor students, and one PhD student. Collaborating with such a wide range of students further developed my perspective on different aspects of public health such as health policy and health behavior. Furthermore, one of our team members who is receiving her Bachelors in Neuroscience brought unique and valuable perspectives to the meetings, often bringing in essential data to our initiative.

If you are looking for a fun way to accelerate your critical-thinking skills, push your creativity, and expand your social and professional circle, you may want to consider applying to one of the Global Health Case Competitions! Some advice I have for future participants (and for future global health leaders) is to lean into the interdisciplinary aspect of global health issues. Some of the best ideas utilize out-of-the-box thinking that can only be developed from including multiple perspectives.

This experience gave me the incredible opportunity to apply what I am learning in my program to real-world problems to come up with valuable solutions. If you envision yourself solving large-scale issues and creating community impact this will be a fantastic way to test your skills!