Documentary explores ‘invisible’ work of public health

Mary Bassett speaking in "The Invisible Shield"
Mary Bassett

April 3, 2024 – A new PBS documentary about the importance of public health features Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Mary Bassett.

The four-part series, “The Invisible Shield,” shows how the field of public health has saved countless lives in the U.S., protecting people from the constant threat of disease, and helping increase lifespans. The documentary explores the hidden public health infrastructure that makes modern life possible. It also highlights the work of thousands of people—physicians, nurses, scientists, activists, reformers, engineers, and government officials—who have worked together over decades to improve health outcomes, from the days of cholera and smallpox through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The series also explains how the public health system is “invisible” to many people—because when it’s working well it’s not noticeable—and how it suffers from chronic underfunding.

Bassett, director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and FXB Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, is one of several experts featured in the series, which was produced by RadicalMedia with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Others quoted include Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Kelly Henning, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Josh Sharfstein of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Abigail Echo-Hawk of the Urban Indian Health Institute.

Watch the documentary: The Invisible Shield

Read a Forbes article about the documentary: ‘The Invisible Shield’ Makes Public Health More Visible