U of T students receive first place and honourable mention in global health contest

May 4/2015

Global health students at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health received first place and honourable mention in the 2015 Untold Global Health Stories contest. The contest is run jointly by the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) and Global Health NOW, an online magazine by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Annie Liang, a first-year epidemiology student pursuing a global health emphasis was awarded first place for her submission of mycetoma, a chronic inflammatory disease of the extremities, visually representing a cross between elephantiasis and leprosy.

“My story pitch was based on the image of an empty room hosted by the South Sudan government to highlight the plight of those that suffered from mycetoma at last summer’s World Health Assembly, where I attended as a youth delegate,” said Liang, who entered the contest to gain attention for neglected diseases with Simran Dhunna, a fellow U of T student pursuing a microbiology undergraduate degree.

“The painful disappointment on the faces of African Ministers of Health when faced with an empty room with no representation from any of the Western nations is engraved permanently in my memories,” Liang continued.

The Untold Global Health Stories Contest gives a voice to global health issues deserving attention. More than 170 nominations were received and winners were recognized at the Consortium of Universities for Global Health Conference in Boston on March 27, 2015.

“[The number of nominations received]demonstrates not only the interest in raising awareness about global health issues, but also the sheer number of stories that our readers feel do not receive adequate attention from the media,” said Brian Simpson, Global Health NOW’s Editor-in-Chief, in an e-mail to contest winners.

Anjum Sultana and Antu Hossain received an honourable mention for their nomination of jiggers, a parasitic disease caused by chigoe fleas that burrow into the extremities of the body, usually concentrated in the feet. This often leads to inflammation, infection and lack of mobility of the affected region.

Sultana, a first-year health promotion student pursuing a global health emphasis, saw firsthand how the disease has numerous negative social, economic and political implications while completing a co-op work term in Western Province, Kenya through Students for International Development in 2012. Hossain is a Health Studies undergraduate student at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

“I am hopeful that through this attention, policymakers, funders and donors see the debilitating nature of the disease and understand how through appropriate funding and resources, t is within our collective power to eradicate it in Kenya and elsewhere.” said Sultana.

Photos (top): empty room at last year’s World Health Assembly, photo c/o Annie Liang. (bottom) Anjum Sultana in Kenya.