News: Global Health Systems graduates reflect on national case competition win

By Jennifer Parraga, BA'93

As the Master of Management of Applied Science in Global Health Systems (GHS) Class of 2021 prepares for official convocation this month, the memory of winning a national health case competition remains a proud moment for several graduates. 

Roha Alam, Anisah Hooda, Aishwarya Kulkarni, Saranya Naraenth and Donika Yakoub won the national Dalhousie Med GHI Global Health Case Competition in June. They credit the training from the intensive, fast-paced and collaborative program for their win.

“The program is transformative,” said Yakoub. “I have spent a lot of time unpacking, unlearning and relearning things and had to take time to reflect and challenge my own beliefs. And it really prepared me to think about innovative solutions to problems that I could use in the competition.”

“Throughout the GHS program, we had the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning experiences that allowed us to understand and identify the intersecting causes of our world’s problems and approach potential solutions through a trans-disciplinary and systems-level lens,” added Hooda. 

The annual case competition was held over a two-week period, with 23 teams from across the country participating. Teams were challenged to propose a solution to address the global housing and homelessness crisis.

“Homelessness is the perfect example of a “wicked problem” in global health because of its complexity; there are so many intertwining factors that contribute to and perpetuate and there is no one size fits all solution,” said Kukarni.

After being chosen as one of three finalists, the Western team were asked to develop a specific proposal and then make their pitch to a panel of judges.

The team decided to focus on youth homelessness in Toronto. Their pitch outlined a three-step solution that included retrofitting an abandoned building to create housing, creating education opportunities and providing access to government identification.

Their goal was to create a sustainable solution that would interact with existing education and health systems.

The five-member team had not worked together before the competition but say that the technical and soft skills they learned through their studies made their transition as a group seamless.

“This was a team effort,” said Naraenth, reflecting on the win.