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One size fits all? Responding to the pandemic in an unequal world - 20 November 2020

Please note that this event has passed.

The event will be hosted virtually via Microsoft Teams. Please register to receive the joining link.

Event Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global problem that requires global rather than domestic solutions. Yet our world is a radically unequal one, where different countries face significantly diverse circumstances and have vastly different capacities for responding to the crisis. While even high-income countries have found challenging to implement the classic public health measures of combating pandemics, middle- and low-income ones have faced even starker obstacles.

This session will be dedicated to examining the challenges and implications of developing strategies that are global but that nevertheless accommodate the social, economic, political and cultural differences between countries in our unequal world.

Should all countries adopt the same public health measures, especially social distancing ones? How should the WHO advise countries with different capacities and challenges?

Event Speakers

Dr Sridhar Venkatapuram has been an academic-practitioner at the forefront of health ethics and global health for over 25 years.

He was awarded an honours distinction at Brown University for his undergraduate international relations dissertation on HIV/AIDS and human rights in the early 1990s well before HIV/AIDS was recognized widely as a global health and development issue; he was a pioneer of the health and human rights movement as the first researcher at Human Rights Watch to examine HIV/AIDS and other health issues directly as human rights concerns; and at the age of 25 he was supported by the Ford Foundation to provide human rights training to the first cohort of Indian HIV/AIDS organizations. At Harvard, he worked with the late Arjun Sengupta, UN Independent Expert on the Right to Development, in conceptualizing its philosophical and ethical framework.

Prof Alexander Broadbent is founding Director of the Institute for the Future of Knowledge and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Johannesburg. He is also an Associate Member of Millennium Chambers in London.

He specialises in prediction, causal inference, and explanation, especially in epidemiology and medicine. He publishes in major journals in philosophy, epidemiology, medicine and law, and his books include the pathbreaking Philosophy of Epidemiology (Palgrave 2013) and Philosophy of Medicine (Oxford University Press 2019). He was report writer for the United Nations COVID-19 Rapid Needs Assessment for South Africa. He writes opinion pieces on health and education matters.

Dr Salma Abdalla is a research fellow at Boston University School of Public Health where she is currently pursuing a Doctor in Public Health degree. She is also the lead Project Director for the Rockefeller Foundation–Boston University 3-D Commission. Her research looks at the social, political, and commercial determinants of health. She is particularly interested in applying systems thinking modeling methods to guide decision-making beyond the healthcare sector to improve the health of populations.


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