In ways both historic and difficult to anticipate, the COVID-19 pandemic is every day transforming how we live, work, build community and define ourselves as Americans. How did we get here? What might a post-pandemic future hold? At a time of pervasive uncertainty, who are the arbiters of truth? And how can we leverage this moment to reimagine and demand a society that better cares for its most vulnerable? From her position on the front lines, Dr. Sejal Hathi, M.D., M.B.A., brings you wide-ranging conversations with leaders in government, public health, culture, and technology who are shaping our collective response to these questions.
I first met Dr. Abdul El-Sayed 7 years ago at a fellowship retreat. He was still in medical school, but even then it was clear, our healthcare system dismayed him: it was unaffordable, inefficient, and cruel to those who needed it most. The experience galvanized Abdul to pivot from practicing medicine to repairing public health, beginning with the city of Detroit, where he became the youngest health commissioner of a major American city when he was appointed to rebuild the Detroit Health Department, after it was gutted and privatized during municipal bankruptcy. In 2018, Abdul ran for Governor of Michigan on an unapologetically progressive platform of universal health care, clean water for all, debt-free higher education, and a pathway to 100% renewable energy; he didn't win, but earned the endorsements of several progressive leaders, including Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Most recently, he's written a book, Healing Politics, which diagnoses our country's epidemic of insecurity and the empathy politics we must embrace to treat it. Abdul is brilliant, a political force, and a bright moral light at a moment when we need such leadership dearly. Over the years, I've been grateful to call him a friend, someone I trust to make sense of the times we live in. So for this episode, I asked Abdul if he would join me to talk about his journey, this unsettling moment in our country's history, and his blueprint for a more equitable and sustainable future, as charted in his book. What results is a thought-provoking conversation about personal agency, what it means to live a life of meaning, why so many people are hurting right now, and what we owe to each other as a society. For more on Abdul and to order his book, Healing Politics, visit his site here. And contact the show anytime at www.civic-rx.org.
Dr. Leana Wen is an emergency medicine physician and a professor of health policy & public health at George Washington University. Previously, she was the Health Commissioner for the City of Baltimore, where she led the nation’s oldest continuously operating health department. She’s the author of critically acclaimed book, When Doctors Don’t Listen, and its ensuing TED talk, now viewed over 2 million times. In 2019, Dr. Wen was named one of TIME 100’s Most Influential People. For this episode, Dr. Wen and I delve into her time in Baltimore and, particularly, the lessons it holds for the moment we’re in now, as cities hasten to respond to dual crises of racism and infectious disease. We also explore the critical role that trust — institutional trust, social trust, patient-to-physician trust — plays in an effective pandemic response, and discuss what we can do to restore trust in public health and public officials. And through it all, Dr. Wen reflects on her personal journey, and how she came to discover and inhabit her own voice. For more on Dr. Wen's work, check out: her TED talk: "What your doctor won't disclose" her weekly column in The Washington Post her reflections on 4 years as Baltimore's Health Commissioner, in Health Affairs her feature in The Atlantic, for a representative day-in-the-life: "Working a million hours to heal a city" And for more on Civic Rx, visit www.civic-rx.org.
Dr. Anthony Fauci is the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where since 1984, he’s overseen a vast portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat infectious disease — everything from HIV/AIDS to malaria, Ebola, Zika, and now COVID-19. He was a chief architect of PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and today serves as one of the seminal members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, where he advises the federal government on its response to the pandemic. Our space here cannot adequately capture Dr. Fauci’s contributions, but suffice it to say that he is a giant in medicine and a profound personal hero, and it was a treasure to talk with him for this episode. We cover a lot of ground in limited time, from the state of our country’s coronavirus response, to his approach to navigating the political tensions intrinsic to his job. We also reflect on his personal journey, from his childhood to choosing medicine through his four decades in government. I deeply enjoyed this conversation, and hope you do, too. For more, check out: the CDC's guidelines on how to protect yourself, this tracker by the NYTimes of the status of all 50 states' reopenings, and Dr. Fauci's remembrance of his dear friend and AIDS activist, Larry Kramer, who passed away in May And for more on Civic Rx, visit www.civic-rx.org.
Peter Sands is the Executive Director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, a multilateral organization that invests $4 billion a year to combat these three epidemics — and this year, too, COVID-19. To put that in perspective, the Global Fund serves as the single largest provider of external health financing for all the low- and middle-income countries in the world. A significant proportion of these resources go toward equipping health systems to respond to crises exactly like this one. And yet, as we discuss, much of the world has been found unprepared for COVID-19— while the political wrangling between the United States and other key leaders jeopardizes any type of coordinated response. Peter and I cover a lot of ground in this episode — from the uneven impact of COVID-19 around the world, to the complications it poses for existing global health campaigns like those against TB and malaria. We also discuss why the private sector should be incentivized to invest in pandemic preparedness, and how Peter’s past as CEO of Standard Chartered Bank has informed his response to questions about the pandemic’s economic costs. Links of interest: For more on the Global Fund, check out: https://www.theglobalfund.org/en/ Peter’s post, “When Finance Fails: Why Economists Didn’t See a Coronavirus Collapse Coming”:: https://www.theglobalfund.org/en/blog/2020-03-25-when-finance-fails-why-economists-didnt-see-a-coronavirus-collapse-coming/ Peter’s editorial on the necessary parallels between the 2008 financial crisis and today’s public health crisis, and how we must invest robustly in global health security: https://www.ft.com/content/c8eae26c-6204-11ea-abcc-910c5b38d9ed Want to learn more about the show? Check out civic-rx.org.
Hi, everyone, my name is Dr. Sejal Hathi, M.D., M.B.A., and this is Civic Rx: a podcast and a project to help all of us make sense of the million different ways our world has shifted in the wake of the novel coronavirus: Every episode, I bring you conversations with people whose work and ideas are challenging and transforming the way we live, work, and build community. Together, we reflect on how we can foster a healthier and more equitable society. Learn more at: www.civic-rx.org