This Week in Global Health With IIGH

The USC IIGH team is excited to present “This Week in Global Health With IIGH.”

This series offers the perspectives of a diverse collection of leaders, highlighting what they are witnessing and the work they’re engaged in during the current moment. Our goal is to help facilitate a conversation from local to global, learning from policy experts, researchers, activists and academics from communities the world over, while sharing their perspectives, highlighting new developments and emphasizing best practices. 

Hosted by Sofia Gruskin, Director of USC IIGH, featured topics include the economic, social, political, legal, and community impacts of the pandemic, and global health and human rights discussions more generally.  

Week of: March 16, 2021

Jonathan Cohen – Director of the Public Health Program, Open Society Foundations

“And it’s hard not to be seduced by the idea that a vaccine is the path back to normal; until you recognize and remind yourself and realign yourself with the idea that we don’t want to go back to normal. Right? That’s the social justice claim, that normal was oppressive for the very groups who are most affected by this pandemic” – Jonathan Cohen (Based in New York)

Pascale Allotey

Director of the United Nations – University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) 

“There is an opportunity through this crises. What would have been ideal, and this had been pushed from the Secretary-Generals level – ideally it would have been an amazing opportunity for the global community to come together, for leadership to come together. Because in some ways there’s the paradox of the intervention that was chosen, which was to lock everybody up and lock countries up, but at the same time it’s one that required solidarity and working together to get rid of a global problem.” – Pascale Allotey (Based in Kuala Lumpur) 

Pascale Allotey Pt. II

Kenechukwu Esom

Policy Specialist in Human Rights, Law and Gender for the UNDP HIV, Health and Development Group

“COVID-19 has really laid bare how susceptible health systems are. Even in the must advanced supposedly developed context, this has to be a constant work in progress as we re-think what effective health systems should look like.” – Kenechukwu Esom (Based in New York)

Sharon Fonn

Professor at the School of Public Health at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

“In the early days there was almost a sense of excitement and hope, because right in the beginning there were two things we saw. Really bold, and confident and competent leadership from the president. He got up, he spoke with authority, he spoke in an informed manner. And he spoke in a way that made you feel the decisions being made were based on science…in theory, and I supposed this is always the tragedy of South Africa, our policies are great. The talk was fantastic. The walk was not.” – Sharon Fonn (Based in South Africa)

Gregg Gonsalves

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology  at the Yale School of Medicine, Adjunct Associate Professor at Yale Law School

“You can tell that COVID in many places follows the fault lines of inequality in the U.S. and I would say around the world as well, but it’s pretty clear it’s exacerbating and praying on the inequities that were here long before COVID.” – Gregg Gonsalves (Based in Massachusetts)

Lianne Gonsalves

Technical Officer, WHO Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research

“We also want to make sure that people have access to the services they need. And I will say this is something that I think the health system in most countries is grappling with, is how do we maintain services and what qualifies as an essential service in a crises with so many resources and so many personnel being diverted” – Lianne Gonsalves (Based in Switzerland)

Mauro Cabral Grinspan

Executive Director, GATE

“I hope to see that all the different solidarity networks that we have seen emerging in different parts of the world, that they will survive COVID. We shouldn’t need to start from zero again but to expand them and make them stronger.” – Mauro Cabral Grinspan

Faysal El Kak

Senior Lecturer of Health Behavior, Sexuality & Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut

“Issues for example like abortion, post abortion care, emergency contraception, family planning, detecting violence, abusive violence against women, sexual violence, all of these things are affected in a negative way and they’re falling behind. ” – Faysal El Kak (Based in Beirut)

Rajat Khosla

Human Rights Advisor, World Health Organization

“Business as usual will not work, and I think at a level must not work. We need to identify new ways of working, new ways to connect to communities which are very vulnerable and increasingly more marginalized than they were before COVID. How do we bring in that sense of community engagement into our work, is extremely important. But this where we need to identify new techniques” – Rajat Khosla (Based in Geneva) 

Nancy Krieger

Professor of Social Epidemiology the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

“The economic devastation as well as health devastation is enormous and it’s going to be continuing, and it’s making some of the economic inequities that are racialized in this country even worse than they were before” – Nancy Krieger (Based in Massachusetts)

Ajeng Larasati

Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Masyarakat (LBHM) – Community Legal Aid Institute

“Somehow it (COVID-19) got spread to the poor territories on the peripheries of the city. It’s a very very difficult situation. I was talking to them last week it’s like every street in the favelas has someone who died, or family that was affected. Because of other things, because of the social economic situation. They are much more vulnerable.” – Vera Paiva (Based in São Paulo) 

Allan Maleche

Executive Director of the Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN)

“With the restrictive measures that have been introduced & the fact that the Ministry of Health has opted to take a punitive approach to enforcing public health measures, we have actually seen increased cases of human rights violations” – Allan Maleche (Based in Kenya)

Allan Maleche Pt. II

Vera Paiva

Professor of Social Psychology, University of São Paulo

“Somehow it (COVID-19) got spread to the poor territories on the peripheries of the city. It’s a very very difficult situation. I was talking to them last week it’s like every street in the favelas has someone who died, or family that was affected. Because of other things, because of the social economic situation. They are much more vulnerable.” – Vera Paiva (Based in São Paulo) 

Parveen Parmar

Chief, Division of Global Emergency Medicine, Keck School of Medicine USC

“It’s pretty well known now that nationally if you are person of color, if you’re black, if you are poorer – you have worse health outcomes with COVID.  And that is certainly something we are seeing play out in Los Angeles county. The hospital and county officials have really done their best to try to support all LA citizens, but the reality is there are still people who are forced to work and people who don’t have legal status in the United States remain more afraid of seeking care.” – Parveen Premar (Based in Los Angeles) 

Susana Soto Tirado

Recent Medical School Graduate, University of Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia, Former Visiting Scholar, USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health

“Sometimes we take more time trying to explain to the family what is happening than treating the patient, because the family doesn’t understand that the patient needs to be isolated, that they need to be isolated. That they can’t go dancing on the weekends, that they can’t go visit grandma on the weekends.” – Susana Soto Tirado (Based in Brazil)