How the pandemic underscores the primacy of public health

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Dean Michelle Williams recently joined Adil Najam, dean of the Pardee School of Global Security at Boston University, for a conversation about what public health will look like in a post-COVID-19 world.

During the interview, published on September 10, 2020, Williams said that the pandemic underscores the “the primacy of public health as the undergirding of our civil society, our economic health, and our national security.”

Williams also lamented the politicalization of public health across an array of issues, from vaccines to women’s health to social distancing. “Public health is under siege because the rules of the games have changed,” she said. “We can’t stand on the sideline and say we don’t want to be political. Health is a human right. Public health is an approach to protect and preserve that human right.”

Williams added that the enduring nature of the COVID pandemic has provided us a prolonged period to reflect on what has gone wrong with our approach to public health, what we could do better, and how we can build back better. “The lesson I hope everyone learns from this is that public health is too important to be pushed aside,” she said.

Watch the interview: The World After Coronavirus: The Future of Public Health | Michelle A. Williams