Global Health Case Challenge 2017 - Migrating Women's Health

United Nations Population Fund, EIT Health and University of Copenhagen provided the case on Migrating Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health for the Global Health Case Challenge 2017. The Challenge took place in Copenhagen in November 2017 as part of the EIT Health Innovation Day. The event was arranged and hosted by the School of Global Health, Research Centre for Migration, Ethnicity and Health and SUND Innovation Hub, University of Copenhagen.

In 2017, we hosted 18 teams of 89 students in total. The students represented 17 universities, 30 different study programmes and 28 different nationalities - a truly diverse and interdisciplinary group. The majority found their teams on our Matchmaking Group on Facebook and met for the first time in real life on the first day of the case challenge.

‘When you ask students from different fields of study and cultural backgrounds to work together, you get exponentially different perspectives on a problem. The ideas will be diverse, facilitating a completely different level of creative suggested solutions. At the same time, the aim of the School of Global Health is to strengthen the students’ job readiness and chances of networking across countries and fields of study, and here the case challenge format represents a unique opportunity’, Professor and Director of School of Global Health Flemming Konradsen.

This years case challenge

In the 2017 case challenge the UNFPA and the University of Copenhagen invited students to spend 24 hours to develop solutions to the global issue of Migrating Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health. The case question was: How can access to
sexual and reproductive healthcare services be improved for migrating women in
the reproductive age?

All teams pitched their ideas to a jury consisting of representatives from UNFPA Supply Division, University of Copenhagen’s Innovation Unit, Doctors without Borders, and Danish Red Cross. The teams had 5 minutes for pitching and 5 minutes for questions. The jury voted for 1 hour and after a lot of deliberation and debate, they settled on the winners – team 10. Team 10 consists of 5 Master of Science in Global Health students from the University of Copenhagen. They come from different study backgrounds and nationalities, and they combined their interdisciplinary mindsets to create the solution of using Blockchain technology to store migrating women’s medical records. Often migrating women have lost their medical records, cannot describe their medical conditions and there is a lack of translators at the point of care sites throughout their migration. However, Blockchain can be a solution to this as medical staff can easily access the records of the women and provide appropriate care.

The winning team
Naomi, Ina, Mary, Sierra and Nils are the winning team 10. Read their blog about their experience and next steps.

Global Migration is increasing due to armed conflicts, mass killings, persecution and pervasive sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). One of the consequences of this migration is the effect it has on the health and morbidity of the migrating population. They often have disease patterns that differ from those found in the national populations in the countries they moved through or settle in, and they often experience barriers in access to healthcare that are unlike those the national populations experience. These issues create exceptional challenges for health services and health professionals.

From January to November 2015, Europe witnessed 950,469 refugee and migrant arrivals through the Mediterranean, with Greece receiving the vast majority of arrivals (797,372). Those arriving by sea are fleeing the Syrian Arab Republic (49%), Afghanistan (20%), Iraq (8%), Eritrea (4%), Nigeria (2%), Pakistan (2%), Somalia (2%), Sudan (1%), Gambia (1%) and Mali (1%). The majority travel to Turkey, from where they undertake a dangerous journey by sea to Greece and then make their way through the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria in an attempt to reach their destination countries, mainly Germany and Sweden. New migrants arrive every day and accurate data remains a challenge. Refugees and migrants travel with an urgency to reach their destination from fear of border closures, potentially increased restrictions in asylum policies and the onset of winter.

It is a dangerous journey, with refugees and migrants often facing high levels of violence, extortion and exploitation along the way, as well as lack of access to healthcare. Single women travelling alone or with children, pregnant and lactating women, adolescent girls, unaccompanied children, early-married children — some with newborn babies — persons with disabilities, and elderly men and women are among those who are particularly at risk and require a coordinated and effective protection response.

An UNHCR/UNFPA report found that women and girl refugees and migrants’ sexual and reproductive health is at risk and that the current responses by governments, humanitarian actors, EU institutions and agencies and CSOs are inadequate. The findings emphasize the urgent need to scale up response efforts, implement innovative solutions and strengthen protection mechanisms and services across borders to adequately address the protection and health risks facing women and girls.