2019 Advancing Development Goals International Contest for students

Award Ceremony of the Geneva Challenge 2019

The 2019 edition asked graduate students to address the complex issues arising from global health and how to tackle these challenges in order to foster social and economic development. On Tuesday 1 October from 13:30 to 16:30 at the Graduate Institute, the five finalists teams, one per continent, presented and defended their projects in front of the Jury at a public event, which was then followed by the Award Ceremony at 18:30.

In 2019, 346 teams composed of 1,364 graduate students from 101 different nationalities registered to take part in the Geneva Challenge.  100 project entries were submitted by 410 students from teams hailing from all over the world. The Academic Steering Committee selected 16 semi-finalists teams.

Team from Weizmann Institute of Science Wins 2019 Geneva Challenge on Global Health

Finalist teams 2019 

first prize


Team from Asia


Over the last two decades, the use of medications and pharmaceutical products became highly abundant and widespread. Although they contribute tremendously to our health and quality of life, they act as a double-edged sword. When improperly disposed of – a common situation in the modern world – they pose a serious threat to the environment and to human health as a result. Moreover, many of the discarded products are still valid and reusable, there are places in the world in which most people do not have access to even the most basic medications.

Re Medic aims to solve these two problems together, using an integrative approach, with a solution suggesting policy establishment to will encourage people to return their unused medications with a reward. Out of the returned products, valid ones will be used to aid areas and populations in need. This creates a “triple win” solution-responsible disposal that will protect the environment and population health, while increasing access for those in need, in addition to the health-related benefits. This is Re Medic’s goal: turning excess into access.

Team from Weizmann Institute of Science


Yonatan Katzenelenbogen is currently pursuing his Master in Life Sciences at the
Weizmann Institute of Science. His research focuses on developing immunotherapy strategies in treating different types of cancer. He was born in a small village in the north of Israel and previously studied animal science and psychology. He also worked as a data analyst in a business intelligence start-up.


Mor Kenigsbuch is currently pursuing her Master in Life Sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Her research focuses on neurodegenerative diseases and neuro-immunology. Prior to that, she worked in the space industry as a satellite operator, in satellite systems development and in a start-up combining space and pharma. Mor is from Tel-Aviv, Israel.


Fadi Sheban is currently pursuing his Master in Neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute. He has a B.Sc. in Biochemical Engineering. His research focuses on developing new methodologies for neuroscience research. He was a Co-founder of a biomedical start-up project, participating in the BizTEC accelerator programme at Technion. A descendant of a Palestinian family, Fadi lives in a small Arabic village in the north of Israel.

Re Medic

Project Re Medic

Second Prize ex aequo


Team from North America and Oceania


With the rapid development of biomedical scientific innovations in the last century, life expectancies are higher than ever. As a result, the proportion of seniors around the world has grown. China, a country with a population of 1.386 billion, currently has the world’s largest population of seniors, with 228 million seniors in 2017 projected to balloon to 478 million by 2050. This rising number of seniors has put a strain on the country’s geriatric healthcare system and long-term care services, resulting in long waitlists and families burdened by the overwhelming responsibility of providing care. Furthermore, seniors who choose to stay at home to maintain their autonomy often score high on social isolation scales, which are risk factors for morbidity and mortality.

The project, Program for Elderly Adults with Cohabitation and Enrichment (PEACE), piloting in the capital city of Beijing, aims to pair local healthcare students with seniors as roommates, while simultaneously integrating biometric data collection to help seniors monitor, manage and maintain their health. This ensures that families have peace of mind, as their loved ones have constant companionship. The four main goals of the program are to improve mental and physical well-being in the elderly through companionship, provide seniors with modest help around the house, provide students with affordable housing in the metropolitan area, and provide students with a hands-on gerontological and community education experience. The project will lay the foundation for a long-term, sustainable solution that will work to ease the aging process for the millions of seniors and their family members, while also reducing the financial burden of student health professional, thus, putting everyone’s mind at PEACE.

Team from Yale University, Harvard University, McGill University, University of Toronto


Casey Chu is a master student of public health at Yale, specialising in health policy with a concentration in global health. Her main passion is in mental health policy and strengthening health systems. More recently, she completed an internship at the England National Health Service in healthcare workforce transformation, and at the World Health Organization in mental health policy. She hopes to pursue a career in integrating mental health care into primary care settings and building mental health capacity within healthcare systems. At Yale, her mental health involvements include planning the Women’s Mental Health Conference and being a Peer Wellness Champion for her student body.


Michelle Dong is currently pursuing her Master of Medical Sciences in Immunology at Harvard Medical School. Her research focuses on immunemetabolism in autoimmune diseases, specifically in inflammatory bowel disease and how novel protein-protein interactions contribute to mucosal homeostasis. In the past, she has worked in the fields of parasitology (creating diagnostic tests for enteric pathogens and studying SNPs in Plasmodium spp. that confer drug resistance) and virology (generating broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV) and has a strong interest in global health, particularly neglected tropical diseases. She has served as the president of the western chapter of UAEM, an organisation dedicated to ensuring equitable and widespread access to essential medicines, and as a mentor with HPREP, a science enrichment program at Harvard Medical School for underserved and underrepresented students.


Tiffany Ni is currently pursuing her Masters in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the development and characterisation of novel anti-thrombotic drugs. She also has a strong passion for global health and translational research. She has served as the crew scientist at the Mars Desert Research Station where she 3D-printed low-cost labware items to provide affordable STEM learning opportunities for those living in low-income countries.


Nancy Wu is completing a Master of Science in Epidemiology at McGill University. She is passionate about public health and how we can better give individuals – especially those in vulnerable circumstances – the best chance at living their fullest lives. Her current research projects use rigorous statistical methods to incorporate input from diabetes patients into international health practice and research. She has been extensively involved in student leadership for Partners in Health in Canada, a global health non-profit that builds sustainable health systems in partnership with marginalised communities.

Program for Elderly Adults

Project PEACE

Second Prize ex aequo


Team from Europe


Today, rapid urbanisation in Africa and Asia outpaces the development of essential urban infrastructures, resulting in the expansion of informal settlements. These crowded areas of entrenched poverty are particularly prone to infectious diseases, such as cholera, malaria and Ebola. Furthermore, such populations are highly mobile and often out of reach of formal health systems, making infectious disease management remarkably challenging. This not only puts local residents at great risk, but also entire cities, countries and regions, given the interconnectedness of populations across rural and urban spaces and international borders.

To address this global health challenge, our RapidCare innovation leverages the existing capacity of informal healthcare providers to better treat and monitor infectious disease in informal settlements. First, RapidCare improves malaria care in informal settlements by increasing the rate at which malaria is correctly confirmed with diagnostic testing. Second, this innovation makes data from the informal sector discoverable through improved data collection, in order to better plan and allocate resources in these communities. Lastly, RapidCare enhances disease surveillance to enable the early identification of disease outbreaks in informal settlements. Overall, this diagnostic and disease surveillance solution will strengthen urban health systems and contribute to making cities more liveable and healthy for those who reside in them.

Team from Sciences Po and Columbia University


Hillary Birch is the team’s implementation and scale-up lead. She is a graduate student at Sciences Po in the Master of Governing the Large Metropolis programme. She holds an H.BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Toronto and an MA in Political Science from McGill University, specialising in international development, African politics and global health. Hillary is experienced in knowledge translation and programme development, with a focus on sexual and reproductive health and early child development. Hillary is Canadian.


Natalie Boychuk is the team’s global health and gender lead. Natalie is pursuing a Master of Public Health at Columbia University with a specialisation in Public Health Research Methods, She also completed an H.BA in Peace, Conflict and Justice from the University of Toronto. She is experienced in developing evidence-based recommendations for global health and humanitarian aid funding, with a specific focus on gender equality and sexual and reproductive health. Natalie is Canadian.


Anna Fechtor is the team’s partnerships and finance lead. Anna is a graduate student at Sciences Po in the Governing the Large Metropolis programme; she completed her H.BA in Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies at DePaul University. Previously, she developed e-learning interventions for incarcerated individuals in the United States and has worked on a number of federally funded grant projects to improve healthcare access for at-risk populations. She is also experienced in product development and cross-sector partnerships. Anna is American.


Maria Giorda is the team’s technology and data security lead. Maria completed a BSc in Business Management at King’s College London and is currently completing her master’s degree in the Governing the Large Metropolis programme at Sciences Po. She is specialised in marketing and product innovation. Maria was previously the lead in launching and troubleshooting a web-based start-up and is experienced in the application and analysis of geolocation data solutions. Maria is Italian.


Project RapidCare

Third Prize ex aequo


Team from Africa


Water is vital for human health and well-being, and it is required for achieving sustainable development. However, water can cause devastating effects as a pathogen carrier, transmitting diseases to a large population. Water-borne diseases continue to be a global health challenge and are most prevalent in developing countries, especially in rural areas. Water-borne diseases are caused by the consumption of contaminated water containing pathogens like viruses, bacteria, parasites and protozoa, and in some instances, the water may contain heavy metals like lead, zinc and mercury, which can cause neurological illnesses.

Our project, Rural Water Filtration Kit (RUWAFIKI), seeks to develop a household water treatment kit composed of crushed moringa seeds, saw dust and filter paper. The kit also consists of other accessories, including a funnel, stirring stick, latex gloves and a user manual (in Luganda language) with visual instructions on how to use the kit. A prototype of the kit has been made containing all of the accessories and dimension. Our proposal has explored, in detail, the conditions of Makondo Parish in Uganda where we aim to first implement our solution, as the area faces many challenges related to water-borne diseases.

RUWAFIKI is an innovative solution, enabling households in Makondo to filter collected water so as to remove pathogens, improve odour and water colour, and resulting in a reduction of the burden of waterborne diseases in the area. The kit is portable, easy to use and very affordable. The project will be implemented in Makondo in cooperation with various local and international partners. Various performance tools and indicators will be used to monitor and evaluate the performance of the project in Makondo. RUWAFIKI directly supports the identified targets of the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): no poverty, good health and well-being and, clean water.

Team from Pan African University


Claydon Mumba Kanyunge is an African Union Scholar from Zambia and currently pursuing a Master of Science in Water Policy at the Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences, Algeria. He studied biology and chemistry during his undergraduate at the University of Zambia in Zambia. Since 2014, he has been working as a youth climate change ambassador with different local educational clubs. Claydon has interests in climate change adaption, public health, water treatment, renewable energy and sustainability.


Francess Gbolare Awunor is an African Union Scholar from Nigeria who is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Water Policy at the Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences, Algeria. Francess studied law during her undergraduate degree at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. She has worked as an environmental lawyer and carried out various research on maritime pollution and water policy and laws for the past three years of her career. She is currently an intern at the ECOWAS Water Resource Coordination Centre, coordinating West African water resource activities. Francess has interests in water policy and governance, ocean conservation and environmental law, and human rights.


Margaret Sima Kironde is an African Union Scholar from Tanzania who is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Water Policy at the Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences, Algeria. Margaret has a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Management from Ardhi University, Tanzania. She worked as a Program Coordinator at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Tanzania for three years, where she promoted women and girl’s rights, as well as environmental awareness. She also worked as an assistant volunteer during SIWI World Water Week 2019 in Sweden, which contributed to reaching SDG 6. Margaret is interested in contributing to SDGs and advocating for good policies and proper interventions in water resource management in the face of climate change.


Oludare Sunday Durodola is an African Union Scholar from Nigeria and currently pursuing a Master of Science in Water Engineering at the Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences, Algeria. Oludare studied agricultural and environmental engineering during his undergraduate degree at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Nigeria. He worked as a Teaching Assistant for one year at Federal University Dutsinma in Nigeria, where he taught some engineering courses. In July 2019, Odulare was selected to attend the 57th United Nations Graduate Study Program in Geneva where he participated in the WASH Project on Mozambique. He is currently a member of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network-Youth (SDSN-Youth) and has interests in youth and leadership development, WASH, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.


Victo Nabunya is an African Union Scholar from Uganda who is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Water Engineering at the Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences, Algeria. Victo studied agricultural mechanisation and irrigation engineering during her undergraduate at Busitema University, Uganda. She worked as a volunteer at Busitema University teaching gender studies and agriculture for one year. She also focused on increasing women’s participation in agriculture, the use of improved irrigation technologies and improving safe drinking water. Victo has interests in rural communities and humanitarian works, irrigation technologies, WASH, climate change mitigation and gender studies.

Rural Water Filtration Kit

Project Rural Water Filtration Kit

Third Prize ex aequo


Team from South America


One in four people around the world will have a mental health problem in their lives. Mental disorders are one of the most prevalent health problems, and health policies around the world do not pay them enough attention. Public health agencies, non-profit organizations and even the private sector have been attempting to develop programs to tackle the mental health problem from care, prevention and promotion views. However, they have failed due to data collection issues and the way that they propose strategies for mental health management.

Wanöpo is an initiative developed to perform adequate screenings of the most prevalent mental health conditions in Colombia, while at the same time providing specific management guidelines for the patients who are treated. The project’s development is supported on evidence-based studies about the importance of having a transdiagnostic view of mental problems. The project is based on an application that will evaluate the dimensional level of emotional disorders, as well as other related problems, such as suicide and substance use. The promotion of these technologies in the mental health field in low- and middle-income countries will also help reduce stigmas. In addition, Wanöpo could contribute to mental health data recollection in the country.

Team from University of Los Andes and Konrad Lorenz University Foundation


Lina Morales completed her Bachelor in Business Administration at the Pontifical Javeriana University. She then worked in the insurance industry and for a health NGO focused on the improvement of health quality services in Colombia. Afterwards, she finished her Bachelor in Psychology at the El Bosque University and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Los Andes.


Mateo Bernal is currently pursuing his Master in Clinical and Health Psychology and is a Graduate Teacher Assistant at the University of Los Andes in Bogotá. He also holds a Bachelor in Psychology from the same university. He has professional and research experience in clinical and health psychology and neuropsychology, working with different populations, such as university students with emotional problems, psychiatric patients and victims of the armed conflict in Colombia.


Bernardo Tocua is a psychologist from the El Bosque University. After he obtained his bachelor’s degree, he began working in drug and alcohol prevention with teenagers and has been involved in the selection processes of different kind of jobs. Now, he is working towards a master’s degree in public health and he works as a Graduate Teacher Assistant at the University of Los Andes, giving reading and writing tutorials to college students.


Alma Guaidia is a psychologist from El Bosque University. After obtaining her degree, she trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in clinical psychology at the Konrad Lorenz University Foundation in Bogotá, with emphasis on research and mastery in the clinical field. She has experience in evaluation, diagnosis and intervention in adolescents and adults at the individual and group level.


Project Wanöpo


This special prize is awarded in partnership with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Youth


Renewable Energy as the Game Changer in Rural Health Crisis: Bringing Advancement in Community-Based Healthcare Facilities in Remote Rural Areas of Indonesia

Stable access to electricity is crucial to keeping healthcare facilities operational at all times. However, in Indonesia, low grid connectivity among the islands and frequent extreme weather events often cause power outages in local healthcare centres. This poses a serious threat to public health, especially in remote rural islands.

In Indonesia, the government took the initiative to install local clinics called Puskesmas as a way to improve public health. Puskesmas are installed virtually everywhere throughout the nation, working as a hub for the implementation of a primary care delivery strategy.
Using these clinics as a starting point, our team has devised a new model for comprehensive healthcare in rural regions of Indonesia. The project installs renewable energy generators (i.e. on-site solar PV power generators and co-generation systems) and then gradually expands its scope of coverage to the Puskesmas’ vital operations to be able to operate the common kitchens of villages where Puskesmas are found. The common kitchen would bring villagers together in a way that is free from the use of traditional stoves that have toxic emissions. Finally, mini-grids would be installed in the local community. The Puskesmas will then serve roles both as healthcare and electricity providers.

Building upon the case and demographics of Masalembu, an Indonesian island, future cash and energy projection is calculated to provide the financial viability of the project. By building an energy-independent community with inclusive healthcare, the project can achieve universal public health in three ways: (1) maintaining stable healthcare operations with on-site electricity generation; (2) providing a clean cooking solution to reduce the outbreak of respiratory diseases; (3) granting access to electricity for the local population via mini-grids.


Team from Seoul National University, Peking University and University College London


Jihae Ko, with a double major in Earth Science and Environmental Management, strives to contribute to building a sustainable future with practical solutions. She studied the atmospheric dynamics of microdust in the Atmospheric Chemical Modeling Lab in the Seoul National University. Upon realizing that renewable energy could play a critical role, she did an internship in International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) for an year, and in Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) for 4 months. Currently, Jihae is a master candidate in the University College London in energy modeling.


Hansol Jung is a master student in Peking University studying international relations. She is a strategic idealist who believes that a thorough study of the problems around the world can lead to right solvency. Having majored in English language education and international studies at Seoul National University, she is pursuing to come up with a better way to provide stable financing and implement proper education and development projects across the world.


Chaiyoung Lee is currently attending Seoul National University Law School and holds a bachelor of business administration and economics. She is a legal practitioner with a high goal of bringing justice to our society and is especially interested in public law for its role in protecting human rights. She believes that laws and policies provide guidelines for and practicable implementation of the solutions against problems, and successfully assess the viability of options.


Renewable Energy as the Game Changer in Rural Health Crisis

Semi-Finalist teams 2019 

Team from South America

Information System for Immigrants

Team from Europe


Team from Europe

The Mosquito Quest

Team from Asia

SEVA - Smart Extention of Vaccine Administration

Team from North America and Oceania

MiA - Mi Asistente de Salud Sexual y Reproductiva

Team from Africa

Endelevu: Addressing Household Air Pollution Through Clean Cooking Promotion

Team from Europe

Leaving No Child Behind - Fighting Mental Health Problems Of Institutionalized Children In Tanzania

Team from North America and Oceania

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