If I have seen further,” Isaac Newton wrote in a 1675 letter to fellow scientist Robert Hooke, “it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
The phrase above aptly described my feelings when my team, Health Architects is announced as the winner of Sweet Spot Malaysia, a digital hackathon which aims to engage the youth in generating new ideas and tools to work out the challenges in tackling Malaysia’s silent epidemic–diabetes. The digital hackathon that runs across 3 weeks through a series of lightning talks, workshops, check-ins, design-thinking module and presentation in front of esteemed professionals is a laborious but worthwhile journey; I managed to be connected to 50 other Malaysian youths, most of them are already working in the corporate world and some of them are healthcare workers.
|I pitched my team’s idea to:|
|Dr Chong Chee Keong||Deputy Director-General-Public Health of the Ministry of Health, Malaysia|
|Dr Zanariah Hussein||Consultant Endocrinologist and Physician at Hospital Putrajaya|
|Dr Khor Swee Keng||Independent consultant for the World Health Organisation|
I was initially approached by an acquaintance, a recent graduate from the University of Cambridge to be a part of the team and gladly accepted her offer. Together with 4 other team members, including one from the University of Oxford, UK, we attended the design thinking workshops and ideated Health Architects. We are also assigned to a mentor, Dr Arunah Chandran, a policymaker under the Non-Communicable Disease Department from the Ministry of Health and created a socio-ecological solution towards a healthy university food environment. We focused on multiple approaches under the ‘nudging’ concept before finalising it to three most implementable solutions- food repositioning, caloric labelling and H20 on the Go. Truth be told, IMU Healthy Cafe model also helped to spark the discussion between me and my team members and we leveraged on that with few case studies from other countries. Winning the competition seems surreal, especially when we had to face multiple challenges like different time zone and fast-paced work as we also had to create a website to advocate diabetes awareness on top of working on the solution. Apart from that, being the only person in my team from a pure medical background, I am glad to facilitate my team throughout the process and help to transition the technical knowledge regarding diabetes easier for the entire team. Taking part in this hackathon has been a great help in cementing my understanding about other social determinants of health and how can I help to create a better environment for diabetic patients.