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Fall 2019

Best Global Practices for Tobacco Control - National Institute for Respiratory Diseases, Mexico (Fall 2019)

Best Global Practices for Tobacco Control - National Institute for Respiratory Diseases, Mexico (Fall 2019)

National Institute for Respiratory Diseases, Mexico

Project Background:

The Tobacco Clinic (TC) at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases (INER) aims to provide support to all smoking patients so that they can quit such a habit in Mexico. Currently, TC provides care to more than 300 patients with an 85% success rate once treatment is finished, 50% at 6 months and 35% at one year after treatment. Through a multidisciplinary team of medicine, psychology, nursing, and nutrition, the Clinic has a cognitive-behavioral program made of 10 group or individual sessions for 5 weeks. This program also includes medical consultation along with pharmacologic treatment to improve therapy outcomes. The whole Clinic’s program is available to the general population: any patient can enter the program. The cost of the sessions is decided according to a socioeconomic level study which varies between $20 and $200 USD. In case pharmacologic treatment is required, the patient will probably spend between $40 and $400 USD depending on his or her needs.

Furthermore, there is a monthly support session for ex-smokers to strengthen addiction cessation through three objectives: 1) Continuous professional interaction with patients so that follow up can be completed; 2) Connection with people ranging on different stages of the smoking cessation process; 3) Provide information regarding the impact tobacco has on patients’ health so that abstinence can be reinforced.

Besides its welfare component, the Clinic has a very important clinical research component, trying to associate different consumption patterns with genetic and functional variations, symptoms and patient prognosis. The TC is currently including dual users (patients that smoke both tobacco and marijuana) in its research and care groups. Moreover, the Clinic is nowadays the headquarters for the Interinstitutional Committee for Tobacco Control, a working group that gathers key stakeholders in private, public and hospital Institutions around Tobacco Control policies.

Definition of Opportunity:

Despite its 30 years of experience, the TC has not compared its model to other successful models for tobacco cessation. Nor has it expanded its influence through e-health. The TC has a limited impact mostly because its population comes almost exclusively from the patient population from inside INER. This limits most of its focus on patients older than 50 years with an already existent pulmonary and/or chronic disease. Thus, there is a need to attract younger populations. Moreover, there is a wide gap of knowledge regarding a patient who has drug addictions that can affect the lung such as inhaled polymers, cocaine and others. For this, the Clinic is currently trying to launch an app that can provide support for patients who want to quit smoking and at the same time feed the TC with data useful for research. Additionally, our Interinstitutional Committee has important and yet unused talent due to a lack of social communication and PR strategies.

Initial ideas:

Comparative work from what the TC does, compared with what other evidence-based centers are doing is extremely useful. Moreover, being able to compare what differences exist between developing and developed countries can help the Clinic find the middle ground that could scale its impact. Specifically exploring the following topics:

  • Best examples of Tobacco Cessation Group Session strategies

  • Tobacco Cessation Center’s outcome tracking and impact measurement

  • Use of e-health strategies to scale the Clinic’s impact

  • Successful Strategies for Tobacco Control Committees.

What does success look like:

Specific deliverables regarding the four areas shown above would help the Clinic greatly. Any further development of each one of these comparative tasks into an actual application to the TC would be most welcome. For example, if based on a comparative table of other Tobacco Center’s main impact measures, the team could aid the Clinic in creating its own or our joint project would really make a lasting difference.



Meet the Team:



Using Data to Drive Impactful Investments - Puente, Dominican Republic, (Fall 2019)

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Using Data to Drive Impactful Investments - Puente, Dominican Republic, (Fall 2019)

Project Background:

Puente leverages mobile data and local volunteer networks to identify community needs and match them with smart, sustainable solutions. Our impact primarily comes from helping partner organizations operate efficiently (by accessing and using better data) to solve more problems with available resources. However, we’re also equipped to lead our own projects and bring in partners that can expand the project’s scope and scale. This case study provides a nice overview of how Puente identifies and solves problems in communities where we work.

Founded in 2018 by a team that includes two Notre Dame alumni (class of 2015), Puente now works across several regions of the Dominican Republic with operations based in the city of Constanza. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a lean, young, diverse team that is excited to work with ND students this semester.

Definition of Opportunity: Puente has surveyed communities across the Constanza region and possesses data on a wide range of unmet needs. Our goal is to act on this data while it remains current by designing one or more interventions to target needs exposed by our survey data. Puente hopes to invest up to $10,000 in community development projects by year-end, so students will use data (and local insights from Puente’s team on-the-ground) to answer the question: “how should we invest $10,000 to improve one or more Constanza-area communities?”

Initial Ideas:

We seek to work with motivated students on a real-world project that can have an immediate impact on populations in need. Our goal is to design a project from the ground-up, which involves identifying and validating community needs, understanding potential interventions, designing an execution plan, and much more. We hope to provide a dynamic, hands-on experience to students interested in learning more about what it takes to implement community development projects internationally.

Students will initially work with Puente’s leadership team to analyze survey datasets and geospatial maps, looking for unmet needs and actionable project opportunities

Needs identified in the data will then be validated by Puente’s local team, who will also evaluate the community’s motivation, cohesion, and resources

Students will simultaneously research and compare the various interventions available to address needs in Puente’s datasets

We must understand how our project can have the greatest impact on the most people given budgetary constraints. Comparing the expected benefits and costs of interventions like water filters, latrines, roof repairs, educational programs, etc. will help us decide where resources should be directed first

After validating community needs and matching them with interventions, students will work alongside Puente’s team to write one or more real project proposals

Puente then hopes to fund and implement the projects through both internal capacity and a network of NGO and foundation partners

What Does Success Look Like?

A successful semester results in Puente being able to move forward with one or more actionable project proposals. Project proposals that frame interesting opportunities or are beyond Puente’s range of capabilities may also be impactful -- we can continue pursuing them after the semester ends, and share them with partners more equipped to execute. In either case, the work we do this semester can result in changed lives for many families and communities in the Constanza area.


Meet the Team


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Expanding Global Surgery as Part of the Global Health Agenda - Program of Global Surgery and Social Change, Philippines, (Fall 2019)

Expanding Global Surgery as Part of the Global Health Agenda - Program of Global Surgery and Social Change, Philippines, (Fall 2019)

Organizational Background:

The Program in Global Surgery and Social Change (PGSSC) is a collaborative effort between the Harvard teaching hospitals, Harvard Medical School/ Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) and Partners In Health (PIH). This organization emerges out of work of the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery, that was led by Dr. John Meara at Harvard Medical School (and a 1986 ND graduate). PGSSC’s objective is to advocate for Universal access to safe, affordable surgical and anesthesia care when needed. The strategy is two-fold: 1) Global Surgical Systems Strengthening through Research, Advocacy, and Implementation Science, using the Frameworks developed as part of the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery, and 2) Developing Leaders in Global Surgical and Health Systems through Research, Advocacy, and Care Delivery. PGSSC's research focuses on surgical and health systems strengthening that is measurable, transparent, and locally-driven. Click here for the Strategic Plan that focuses on implementation science, research, advocacy, and training leaders.

The Opportunity:

The World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) has developed a strategic health plan for the region. At the recent World Health Assembly in Geneva, the Regional Director for WPRO indicated his interest to integrate surgery into the regional health plan, and specifically promote the National Surgical, Obstetric, and Anesthesia Plan (NSOAP) model for countries of the WPRO region, potentially including Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Viet Nam and/or Mongolia.

Initial Steps:

One of the initial steps in the development of NSOAPs is a baseline analysis of a country’s current surgical capacity. Review the Tanzanian background research document that created a baseline for the Tanzania NSOAP as a first step to moving forward on the NSOAP process in the WPRO.

Identify with the client the most relevant countries to research.

Conduct a systematic review of academic literature and government policy documents, including form the Ministry of Health websites, to build a baseline on access to and the state of surgery in each of the selected countries.

What does success look like?

The development of research to support a set of future scenarios or pathways that PGSSC might use for potential partnerships with the WHO regional office to support the development of surgical policy, as well as the strategic use of their experience, expertise, and capacity to maximize their organization’s impact on global surgery goals.

Meet the Team:


More Humane Repatriation - USCCB,  El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala (Fall 2019)

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More Humane Repatriation - USCCB, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala (Fall 2019)

Project Background:

The U.S. government has apprehended and deported more unauthorized migrants from the Northern Triangle countries of Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) than those from Mexico in the last five years, according to the latest 2019 report released by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI). In 2017 alone, there were 163,000 apprehensions of migrants from the Northern Triangle countries, compared to 128,000 apprehensions of Mexicans, a pattern that continued into 2018. With this shift in the country of origin the demographics and migration patterns of individuals crossing the southern border have also changed. In the past, migrants coming across the border were over- whelmingly single males. More recently, far more families, members of the LGBTQ community, women and unaccompanied children comprise these migration streams. And while in prior periods the migrants were crossing mainly for economic reasons, the recent arrivals to the border include sizable numbers of migrants seeking asylum or humanitarian protection, straining the U.S. and Mexican asylum systems and intensifying political debates on immigration policy.  According to the U.S. Department of Justice data, migrants from the Northern Triangle countries filed approximately 40,000 asylum claims in U.S. immigration courts in 2016, nearly five times as many claims as those submitted in 2012. 

The US Conference on Catholic Bishops has traditionally helped resettle more refugees in the United States than any other organization.  The Department of Migration and Refugee Services works closely on issues of migrants in all dimensions of their journey. The Office is interested to look systematically at issues of deportation (repatriation -- forced migration and voluntary as well) to El Salvador, Honduras, and/or Guatemala from the US. The USCCB would like to examine the threats, challenges, and gaps in services related to the situation of people deported from the US, during the repatriation process, and following their return to their home countries.  In particular, the USCCB is interested in understanding more about the systems, strategies and mechanisms in place to help support individuals during this often arduous process. 

Definition of Opportunity: This project will be in partnership with Notre Dame’s Initiative for Global Development (NDIDG) that has a project working to strengthening research capacity in countries in the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador). 

Initial Step: 

Review and build on initial research done by USCCB/MRS on this topic. 

Review relevant policy statements from the region, including statements by Episcopal Committee in Honduras and NDIGD policy brief.


What Success Looks Like:

Begin to build a partnership among Notre Dame, USCCB/MRS and the IGD, on bringing research capacity to bear on this important issue. The hope is this background work will provide the foundational research for a team of Integration Lab (i-Lab) Master of Global Students who will work for the full 2020 calendar year on this issue, including travelling to the region.

Meet the Team:

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Building International Partnerships for Students and Teachers - Education Bridge (Fall 2019)

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Building International Partnerships for Students and Teachers - Education Bridge (Fall 2019)

Project Background:

Education Bridge seeks to create flourishing South Sudanese communities through education and peacebuilding. As part of this mission, Education Bridge opened its first school, Greenbelt Academy, in Bor, South Sudan in February 2017. Led by South Sudanese Notre Dame graduate Majak Anyieth ’17, the Greenbelt Academy currently serves over 400 students in grades 9-11, with plans to double the school population and have grades 9-12 over the next years. The Greenbelt Academy seeks to provide quality secondary education as well as to develop a generation of South Sudanese who are not only well prepared academically, but who also see themselves as peacemakers and transformational leaders.

Definition of Opportunity:

Education Bridge has worked with Notre Dame DAT teams over multiple semesters on projects related to developing a peacebuilding curriculum, building enhanced opportunities for girls, contributing to organizational sustainability, and international partnerships. For example, this past year’s DAT resulted in Education Bridge high school students attending Notre Dame’s Pre-College Program (on ND scholarships), as well as a similar program at Yale. Education Bridge now wants to explore the possibility of continuing to build networks internationally in the service of its students and teachers that expand opportunities, as well as formalize relationships that support the development of the overall organizational culture of Education Bridge.

Initial Ideas:

Education Bridge will work with a team of ND students to research how other non-profit organizations, especially those running educational and/or child development programs in the international context, have effectively built mission-driven international networks. We would like to focus on students' opportunities and/or faculty/staff professional development opportunities.

How can we connect our students with a wider set of global possibilities, whether through technology or by travel, that will help expand their understanding of the world and their possibility to make a transformational change? We believe we can draw lessons from the African Leadership Academy and other institutions, and want to explore student exchange, model UN, leadership development and the like. How can we build on the success this past semester with the partnerships with Notre Dame and Yale? We might like a usable database of summer educational programs in the US students can explore (ND Pre-College might be very valuable for acquiring information).

One key question is how to make our students and faculty competitive especially through the university application process. A big part of our international partnership model is related to universities and we need to understand what universities look for in these kinds of candidates and partnerships. A good model for partnering will help us build lasting relationships with universities that will go a long way.

How can we find relevant development opportunities in support of teachers and administrators? We could also imagine a “Greenbelt Fellowship” that might draw talented educators and professionals to work with the Greenbelt Academy to help develop and train current teachers, develop new curricular and extracurricular activities, and more generally expose the school to more innovative pedagogy and technology.

What does success look like?

The development of a number of good models and concrete contacts and ideas for building networks and sustainable partnerships will be relevant for Education Bridge students and teachers, as well as concrete proposals that Education Bridge can utilize and implement as part of its strategic planning process to become a more dynamic and sustainable organization.

Contact Persons: Majak Anyieth, Founder and President of Education Bridge. Majak is a 2018 graduate of the University of Notre Dame. He is also a Dalai Lama Fellow, an Echoing Green Social Entrepreneurship Fellow, and a StartingBloc Fellow. The team will also have access to talk with Education Bridge board members and supporters, most of whom are in South Bend IN.

Meet the Team:


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