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Young Innovators Tackle Sustainable Development Goals

15.06.2018

Anne Christine Heerdegen, PhD Candidate at Swiss TPH, was selected to attend the 2018 UNLEASH Innovation Lab in Singapore. 1,000 creative individuals from around the globe came together from 30 May to 6 June to explore real life challenges and create scalable solutions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Anne Christine Heerdegen, Swiss TPH, attended UNLEASH in Singapore to help tackle SDG 3: good health and well-being for all.

UNLEASH Innovation Lab: a global talent initiative

UNLEASH talents are creative and innovative individuals from around the globe who are passionate about solving the world’s most pressing challenges. Participants in Singapore included academics, entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and technical experts ranging from 20-35 years old. One of them was Anne Christine Heerdegen, researcher and PhD candidate at Swiss TPH. “I think my international work experience and PhD topic, combined with my passion for specific areas within the SDG agenda, helped me in getting selected for the UNLEASH program.” said Heerdegen.

Journey to Singapore: from ideation to implementation

Heerdegen was part of a team which worked towards creating a scalable solution for the sub-theme of SDG 3, Access to Quality Healthcare, with a focus on emergency care in rural settings in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). The team developed a solution in the form of a mobile van called VROOM, an innovative service which uses virtual reality as a training tool to educate community workers in rural Myanmar on how to best provide first response emergency care in traffic accidents. With members of the team having experienced the lack of first aid knowledge and human resources available to combat roadside accidents in LMIC countries such as Myanmar, they were motivated to find a solution despite the poor road and communication infrastructure; one that could hopefully be scaled up and replicated. The team has committed to taking the necessary steps after UNLEASH to bring their solution closer to reality by creating partnerships in Myanmar and developing a long-term strategy.

Heerdegen continues her work on improving access to healthcare  

Heerdegen’s PhD topic at Swiss TPH is Human Resource Development with a focus on management capacity among district health managers in LMIC. Her PhD is an integral part of the project PERFORM2Scale, which aims to strengthen health management across districts in Uganda, Malawi and Ghana. During the remaining two years of her PhD at Swiss TPH, Heerdegen aims to further develop her research skills as well as innovation and leadership capabilities. “I intend to keep working on improving access to quality healthcare – especially for individuals suffering from chronic diseases. By being introduced to 1000+ people from different backgrounds at UNLEASH, my eyes have been opened to the endless opportunities.”

Swiss TPH PhD programmes

Swiss TPH is a nationally and internationally recognised institution for education and training in international and global health, epidemiology, and infection biology. An associated institute of the University of Basel, Swiss TPH offers Masters and PhD programmes as well as a range of postgraduate courses. There are currently 170 PhD students studying at Swiss TPH. Swiss TPH collaborates with various national and international partners such as the Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+) or tropED, the Network for Education in International Health.        

Swiss TPH addresses the SDGs

Swiss TPH is actively engaged in helping achieve the SDGs, in particular SDG 3, across the entire value chain from innovation and validation to application, to sustainably improve and maintain the health and well-being of populations.