Charlottesville - Last Saturday, February 4th, one of the three teams fielded by the Virginia Medical Review won the University of Virginia's Global Health Case Competition, selected from 26 total groups. The annual event, sponsored by UVA's Center for Global Health Equity, presents competitors with a public health challenge in a low-or-middle-income country and solicits proposals on interventions.
This year's case, entitled "Health Impact of Excessive Alcohol Use in South African Youth," centered on the concerning levels of alcohol overuse among adolescents and young adults in the African nation. A widespread and rapidly emerging problem, abuse of alcohol across younger age groups in South Africa is becoming more prevalent, especially among those in lower socioeconomic strata. Overall, the World Health Organization reports that alcohol was linked to the deaths of more than 62,000 South African adults in 2015.
To counter such a large and growing threat, the winning Virginia Medical Review team suggested a comprehensive policy approach that would integrate both economic disincentives and restorative educational programs. On the financial front, proposals included a higher tax on alcohol products. In a complementary manner, community-led educational outreach would build trust in local health professionals and reduce stigma (see the team's slides in the Journal Club tab of the Review's website, Journal Club | VAMedical Review (vamedreview.org)).
Next month, the Review's team will head to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, close to CDC headquarters, to compete at the national level. The winning team members were Anand Colaco, a 4th Year Psychology student, Isaac Yoo, a 1st Year, and Sophia Zheng, also a 1st Year. The Review additionally fielded a second and third team who each put on strong showings, led by Noelle Koo and Mackenzie Chen.
Anand is the Review's Operations Manager, Isaac is an Executive Editor, and Noelle is one of the Review's Publicists. Mackenzie recently wrote this article for the publication: Psoralen: The Silent Killer (vamedreview.org).
We wish the Review's team good luck at nationals in Atlanta, and feel very proud of all our members who chose to engage with such an important examination of global health inequities and their solutions.
Grant GianGrasso is a 4th Year MPH Student at UVA and the Editor-in-Chief of the Review.
Cover photo by Drew Precious.