Students are seeking a solution to the health problems of migrating women

Submitted on Fri, 10/20/2017 - 09:01
The University of Tampere will send a five-member team to a contest in Copenhagen
Ulla Laitinen, Mariette Hägglund, Giovanna Sanchez Nieminen and Lynda Gilby are members of the team the University of Tampere will send to the Global Health Case Challenge organised in Copenhagen. Photograph: Jonne Renvall

The University of Tampere will send a five-member team to a contest in Copenhagen, where the winners will get the opportunity to present their solution to the United Nations Population Fund

This is the first time the University of Tampere (UTA) is sending a team to the Global Health Case Challenge. The competition will be organised at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark on 23–24 November. The participating teams will have twenty-four hours to develop a solution to a real-world issue that will be revealed on the day the challenge begins. This year’s theme is migrating women's sexual and reproductive health.

The invitation to the competition stems from the cooperation of the Faculty of Social Science’s Global Health and Development (GHD) with the University of Copenhagen within a Nordic partnership aiming to strengthen global health education in the Nordic region. In addition to the University of Copenhagen, the partnership includes Karolinska Institutet, Lund and Uppsala Universities in Sweden, the Universities of Oslo and Bergen in Norway, and the University of Tampere in Finland.

UTA’s team will consist of Kalpana Bastola, Lynda Gilby, Mariette Hägglund, Ulla Laitinen and Giovanna Sanchez Nieminen. Laitinen and Gilby are studying in the Master’s Degree Programme in Public and Global Health and Nieminen and Hägglund in the Master’s Degree Programme in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research. The fifth member of the team, Kalpana Bastola, is currently working on her doctoral thesis in public health.

The winning team will be able to present their solution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Eighteen teams from fourteen European universities will participate in the competition.

“We have a real dream team. Our aim is to host the same competition in Tampere in the future,” says postdoctoral researcher Annariina Koivu from GHD.

Students submitted applications to get into the team. Mariette Hägglund wanted to participate because she found the topic interesting.

“The topic of the competition is really fascinating. I have previously worked with refugees in Iraq. I find the case challenge a great opportunity to accomplish something concrete; especially with such a great team of different people,” Hägglund says.

Since the actual task is not known yet, not much can be done in advance to prepare for the contest. However, the Tampere team intends to keep up to date on what is happening in the world.

“Because we are all interested in this subject, we are actively following world events. Getting up to date is good preparation for the actual competition,” Lynda Gilby says.

There are more refugees in the world now than there have ever been since the Second World War. Countries in Europe and elsewhere are facing a challenging situation because the numbers of refugees and asylum seekers have grown but resources continue to be limited.

“In my opinion, the biggest challenge at the moment is how the countries that receive refugees can provide assistance to people who suffer from psychological trauma. Countries must be ready to face this challenge. Along with the elderly and children, women are the most vulnerable group among refugees,” Gilby says.

The website of the Global Health Case Challenge emphasises that the routes refugees take through several countries are full of dangers. Unfortunately, violence, exploitation and extortion are everyday events in the lives of many.

“There are never enough resources. The first thing to do is to deal with urgent problems such as physical needs.  Because of the lack of time and resources, long-term problems are sometimes overlooked,” Hägglund points out.

“Women’s problems may not be adequately taken into account. The refugees are often men, and many refugee camps are probably not be ready to receive large numbers of women,” Laitinen adds.

The University of Tampere’s team will go to the competition with an open mind. All team members are also looking forward to learning valuable skills and meeting new people.

“I think it is always fruitful to share ideas and thoughts with people from different backgrounds. Even if we didn’t win, the competition is a great opportunity to network and learn new skills," Hägglund says.

The Global Health Case Challenge 2017

An introduction to the University of Tampere team on the GHD blog

Text: Jaakko Kinnunen