By: Caprise Perrineau, CHAIM Centre

The Student HEALtH Challenge which ended Saturday, March. 18th was only a glimpse of what is possible.

Students from Carleton University, Michigan State University and University of Saskatchewan and within diverse disciplines worked in groups and collaborated to develop the best approach to the critical global health issue, antibiotic resistance (AMR). After a month of intensive research and team collaboration each team created a strategy to tackle this very urgent issue.

But what makes this challenge so great?

First, involving students from across disciplines and regions broadens the scope of which students view the issue. While a biology student may be interested in what makes microbes resistant and how resistance transfers at the genetic level, a law student may consider how policy changes affect the way different countries restrict antimicrobials. With these perspectives, students are capable to developing a well – rounded approach that acknowledges the intricacies of this global health issue.

Secondly, students adopt and spread the One Wellness mindset. Unfortunately, One Wellness is not a concept taught in class. Rather it is a learned way of thinking that curves away from a narrow, one sided perspective and forces individuals to consider the effects on external factors such as the environment, and wildlife.

Shiney, from the University of Saskatchewan stated, “… I think it encouraged me to always question what I am thinking…” She now, considers whether her thoughts encompass the many aspects of our world. Many students found it enlightening to finally understand how human lives are interwoven with wildlife and environment. Therefore, applying the One Wellness approach to antibiotic resistance is an efficient of informing others of the domino effect of simple yet nonsensical actions. A common mistake is failing to complete, enhancing antibiotic resistance in humans.

These students can apply this process of thinking to other aspects of their lives and even share it with family, friends, co – workers and professors in the hopes teaching others how their actions may have a greater effect than what meets the eye.

Lastly, an overwhelming number of students believe projects like the Student HEALtH Challenge is a fantastic way to get young people involved in global health issues. With some time, research and collaboration, students developed innovative strategies to tackle antimicrobial resistance. Devin from Michigan State University explained, “Learning to work with individuals from other countries and universities is a valuable skill for anyone in any field.” He goes on to say that this is a great way to tackle such intricate and complicated issues, such as AMR.

They challenged current policies that impede progress and offered a glimpse of barriers such as extreme poverty and lack of economic resources that make this issue so difficult to overcome. But most importantly, students experience AMR with ‘fresh eyes’ and share new, intriguing perspectives and solutions that should not be ignored.

It is our hope that the Student HEALtH Challenge and similar projects continue to grow in awareness and students become excited to be the advocates for innovative global health development.