Earlier this year, a half-dozen students representing Einstein medical students, Cardozo Law School and Ferkauf School of Psychology traveled to Atlanta to take part in the seventh annual Global Health Case Competition (EGHCC), sponsored by the Global Health Institute at Emory University.
The institute has held the EGHCC since 2009, inviting participating teams from universities around the world to formulate the best solution to a real-world global health case study or problem. Teams are given a week to prepare their response to the situation presented to them, and are encouraged to include members representing three or more disciplines, such as medicine, law and clinical psychology.
The Einstein/Cardozo/Ferkauf group was one of 24 teams charged with offering a solution to gun violence in Honduras, which has the highest homicide rate in the world. The group recently presented their proposed solution and lessons learned from their experience to members of the Einstein community. “We hope to arm next year’s team with the information they’ll need to bring back an award,” noted team member Paul Johnston.
In order to offer viable solutions, the teams were provided a 41-page document in advance of the competition, which detailed the gun violence issue in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. They also received a letter from the president of Honduras, offering 2 percent of the nation’s security budget and 1 percent of its public health expenditures – amounting to approximately $4.7 million – as a hypothetical budget for devising their proposed solutions.
During their advance preparations in the days leading up to the competition, the Einstein students conducted research along with a needs assessment, and conferred with Dr. Juan Robles, a member of Einstein’s class of 2007 and attending physician in family and social medicine at Montefiore, who also is a native of Honduras. And they spoke with representatives from several non-governmental organizations.
The team developed a plan that employed a variety of approaches to select risk factors. These included using “violence interrupters” made up of former gang members, who would seek to interrupt or stop violence using a texting program to send messages about violence avoidance; working with the group Cure Violence, which would mediate in situations where violence could occur; initiating an advertising campaign that would promote alternatives to violence; introducing a youth martial arts program, Corazón de la Calle, to help youngsters learn self control and discipline; and holding a special youth congress through which Honduran students would compete locally and between states to develop policies that promote nonviolence.
Each of the team’s six members took part in presenting the various aspects of their proposed solution for combatting the Honduran gun violence issue.
“The experience was valuable,” noted Mr. Johnston. “And our participation in this prestigious competition wouldn’t be possible without Jill Raufman, program manager of Einstein’s Global Health Center, who encourages Einstein and Yeshiva students to take advantage of this opportunity and supports it every year.”
Fellow medical student and team captain Stasha O’Callaghan agreed. “We constructed a proposal that was practical, well-researched and accountable to the people of San Pedro Sula,” she said. “This kind of innovation and professionalism was possible only because we were a passionate, interdisciplinary team. Working with a group like this helped me grow immensely as an individual, while also proving to me that diversity of perspectives produces the best results.”
“The competition offers our students insights into real-world global problems,” said Ms. Raufman. “And every year, students come back saying that it was one of the best learning experiences they have ever had. That’s very easy for me to support.”
A call for the 2016 Emory Global Health Case Competition has been posted. Students interested in being a part of Einstein’s 2016 team should e-mail email@example.com.