In 2018 when I accepted the mission of leading USC’s Institute for Global Health, now the Institute on Inequalities in Global Health (USC IIGH), my primary focus was twofold. First, how can we work with stakeholders, educators, students and policy leaders at USC and around the world to comprehensively confront the broad spectrum of health-related disparities that exist in our communities. And most importantly, how can we collaboratively lead the charge for a more just and healthy world through timely research and educational opportunities, engaging partnerships, informative events and insightful publications.
We have been busy. In this period we have developed and validated a strategic plan, worked with close to a dozen USC schools on educational activities in the US and around the world, hosted myriad public discussions and collaborations on multidisciplinary projects, launched projects which partnered with over 35 countries, and signed Memorandums of Understanding with key strategic partners in Kenya and Malaysia to launch research and education hubs.
While we were developing these programs, we of course did not envision the position that we are all facing today. At no point did we imagine a global pandemic of this scale and lethality, with infections reported in over 100 countries, over 270,000+ worldwide infections and over 11000 deaths. Here in the United States, universities and schools are being shuttered, teaching and events are being cancelled or moved to web based meetings, and small businesses, communities and individuals are trying to acclimate to a rapidly changing and deteriorating health environment. We need in particular to pay attention to the heightened risks facing those most vulnerable— the elderly, the sick, the poor in all of our communities. Without adequate facilities, resources or public health policies in place, it’s crucial that we do everything we can to support each other, locally and globally, in these difficult times.
And this is why the Institute on Inequalities in Global Health exists. In times like these there are immense concerns but there are also best practices, and there is always hope. As hard as it may be to clearly see at this time, there are slivers of positive news that have begun to emerge from this pandemic. People reaching out to help people and communities, local and global activism, and a sense of solidarity. If we follow best practices, and learn from and support one another, I truly believe we will recover from this period of difficulty with increased resiliency and understanding.
One of the most important things we can all do during this time is to ensure that we remain engaged and informed. To further that mission, at IIGH we will try to share pertinent information through Twitter and Facebook, highlighting best practices, occasional positive stories, as well as ways to collaborate with local and global leaders to implement effective policies to keep our communities safe.
Please be on the look-out for future correspondence and materials from the USC IIGH team.
Director, Institute on Inequalities in Global Health
This piece was excerpted from the March 2020 IIGH newsletter. To subscribe to future newsletters click here.