nursing schoolImagine a China in 2018 waking up to the financial as well as human rewards of investing its vast wealth in sanitation projects overseas. Matt Lindsley of the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) School of Nursing can.

Lindsley’s student team returned to Baltimore flush with victory and exhaustion after crafting, in a few frenzied days, a plan to address worldwide sanitation woes—that was judged the best entry at the 2013 Emory Global Health Case Competition.

The March 20-23 event in Atlanta, Ga., gave 24 university teams from four countries the challenge  of sorting out an extremely complex global issue based on an imaginary scenario. In this case, they acted as fictitious members of non-profit agencies advising China on how best to help, and how best to profit from those efforts. To do so, the team needed to become intimately familiar with sanitation, not to mention the culture, politics, economics, and trade relations of China and the needs for assistance worldwide ... fast. Its answer was an international sanitation aid program it called China ASsistance in Sanitation in Urban and Rural Environments (ASSURE).

The team chose six countries to work in and devised a plan to finance, market, monitor, and evaluate the sanitation program. All that was left then was to defend the plan before Emory’s team of judges.

Lindsley,an MSN/MPH student, joined forces with Stephanie Van Dyke, Nidhi Khurana, and Collin Weinberger of the JHU Bloomberg School of Public Health and Aaron Chang and Kevin Wang of the University’s Homewood campus to form Hopkins’ winning team. A bit more on how the competition works:

Lindsley admits to difficult moments and genuine doubt but says the teammates learned as much about trust in each other as they did about waste management, public health, and red tape, making the win a truly collaborative effort. “Analyzing any problem big or small requires looking at it from different perspectives and choosing the best solution,” he says. “Solving health care or public health problems requires multidisciplinary teams to capitalize on each other’s strengths.”

Previous competitions had asked teams to address--through similarly fictitious set-ups--such genuine 21st-century issues as childhood malnutrition in Ethiopia, economic and health costs of tobacco use in India, and refugees in East Africa.