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Cecelia’s Corner

HSP’s Spring Health Security Fellow, Cecelia Madsen will be attending various events and discussions across Washington, D.C during her time with us. Below are her summaries and takeaway notes from each.

February 19, 2019

Georgetown Global Health Initiative Seminar Series

Global Health Security in Conflict and Crisis: A Conversation with Dr. Beth Cameron, Nuclear Threat Initiative

Dr. Beth Cameron currently serves as Senior Director for Global Biological Policy and Programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing nuclear, biological, radiological, chemical and cyber attacks or accidents. Prior to her work at the NTI, Cameron served on the White House National Security Council staff and helped to found the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). The GHSA was launched in 2014 to elevate international leaders’ commitment to global health security and accelerate progress toward achieving targets identified by both human health through the WHO’s International Health Regulations and animal health through the OIE’s Veterinary Services Pathway.  Under the GHSA, countries participate in voluntary peer-to-peer assessments regarding health security, and focus efforts on closing the gaps in disease and biological threat detection, prevention and control. Cameron identified a few factors that she believes have allowed the GHSA development to succeed as a multilateral and multi-sectoral organization:

  • Timing: urgency of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa created a need and an opportunity for international collaboration to be better prepared to prevent, detect and respond to diseases;  
  • GHSA agreed upon metrics to understand existing country capacities and monitor progress toward targets, justify financial investments, build momentum, and
  • International shared leadership commitment, political will and partnership from G7, WHO, FAO, and 50+ other organizations and countries (e.g. steering committee with rotating chair, collaboration on metric-setting, volunteer assessments).

National Security and Public Health Policy Takeaways

  • When trying to make the case that public health and global health are essential to national security, timing and political will are essential and unpredictable, and
  • Metrics are money! Metrics can create accountability and opportunity.

February 12, 2019

Brookings Institution, Foreign Policy

A Conversation on Defense Policy with Rep. Seth Moulton

The Brookings Institution hosted a keynote address and conversation with Rep. Seth Moulton, representative of  the 6th District of Massachusetts in Congress since 2014. In addition to his current service to the country, Moulton served four tours in Iraq with the Marine Corps between 2001 and 2008. Rep. Moulton shared three main messages over the course of the morning. First, he called for moral leadership to strengthen the United States’ currently tenuous role in foreign policy, and new alliances to support national security, including the establishment of a “Pacific NATO.” Second, he argued that US defense thinking must become more agile as it strives to stay ahead of China’s technical advances in emerging technologies, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and research. Third, Moulton labeled national service — whether military or civil — as a priority for internal national security to form a more cohesive community via a shared sense of purpose. Finally, Moulton touched briefly on the need for defense policy to seriously consider climate change as a source of conflict, the importance of alliances such as  the Paris Agreement, and the essential role of non-defense discretionary funding in combating climate change.

National Security and Public Health Policy Takeaways

  • To protect national security, US Defense policy makers need to look at newer and smarter arms, arms control, and re-building alliances;
  • The exact dollar amount of the defense budget matters less than how it is being spent, thus we need to be investing in the right areas, and
  • Climate change is a matter of national security.

February 12, 2019

Georgetown Global Health Initiative Seminar Series

Strengthening Global Health Through U.S. Investments: A Conversation with Loyce Pace, MPH, President and Director of the Global Health Council

In this evening seminar with Loyce Pace, President and Director of the Global Health Council, a small group of Georgetown students and members of the public learned about Pace’s experiences building coalitions to improve and promote global public health programs. Pace described the Global Health Council as a DC-based advocacy group which promotes the work of “good” global health programs, and she emphasized that the often bi-partisan nature of global health initiatives is an important strength that facilitates funding. Pace  believes that future global health work will need to support established programs, such as PEPFAR, and will also need to focus on new and emerging priorities, including the establishment universal health care and strengthening local health systems. Pace concluded by calling for the development of a new equity agenda that bridges local and global health. She sees the new members of Congress as essential allies in these steps forward.

National Security and Public Health Policy Takeaways

  • Global and public health may be an easy place for bi-partisan alliances to form;
  • The focus of current global health projects may need to broaden to include non-traditional diseases;
  • At this time, funding for public health initiatives designed to prevent, respond to and treat non-communicable diseases is not a top priority for current State Department funding; and
  • Confronting the world’s growing burden of disease, lack of leadership, and dwindling resources requires continued inspiration and energy from global health leaders.

February 6, 2019

Natural Resources Committee Congressional Hearing

Climate Change: Impacts and the Need to Act

The first Natural Resources Full Committee meeting of 2019 was held on February 6th, 2019. Chairman Raúl Grijalva began the meeting by celebrating his positive vision for the future of climate change under the new Democratic majority in Congress. Next, Governors Roy Cooper of North Carolina and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts spoke on a bi-partisan panel about the negative impacts of climate change in their respective states. Both states have experienced severe weather events in recent years that have had significant effects on local infrastructures and economies. Governors Cooper and Baker also mentioned the need for federal leadership and federal-state partnerships to find more effective solutions for preventing and responding to climate change events. They called for bipartisan cooperation to create regulations that slow the effects of climate change, fund research and development for climate-friendly technologies, and facilitate community resilience and recovery. Governor Cooper spoke of how past state and federal government climate regulation successes should set the precedent for today’s climate challenge, citing policies developed to reduce acid rain and protect the ozone layer.

Following the governors’ session, a second panel of witnesses representing various facets  of the public took the floor. Speakers from youth organizations, higher education institutions, and advocacy groups spoke passionately about the impact of climate change at both  local and international levels, and called for action on the part of the federal government to respond. The emotional tone of many of the speakers was an interesting complement to the more policy-oriented nature of the governors’ dialogue.

National Security and Public Health Policy Takeaways

  • Bi-partisan collaboration to develop regulations confronting environmental challenges has been effective in the past and will be necessary in the present and future;
  • The climate change response needs to focus on community resilience, recovery and research, and;
  • There are significant differences between the languages spoken by policy makers and members of advocacy groups, and this gap needs to be bridged.

February 5, 2019

Georgetown Global Health Initiative Seminar Series

What’s Next? Preparing for Future Pandemics: A Conversation with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Dr. Anthony Fauci has been Director of NIAID since 1984, when he was appointed during the early stages of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. During this evening seminar, Dr. Fauci discussed the evolution of his role during the HIV/AIDS response, from the terrifying uncertainties and stigmas in the 1980s, to the development of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003. Dr. Fauci attributed much of PEPFAR’s success to the leadership and commitment of former President George W. Bush, who believed the United States had a moral imperative to share life-saving technology with the world’s most vulnerable. With the President’s political and budgetary support, informed by technical experts like Dr. Fauci, PEPFAR became what has been widely acknowledged as the most effective infectious disease response program in history. According to Dr. Fauci, “when the leadership of a great nation wants to make impact, great things can be done” in partnership with receiving countries.

In addition to his experiences working with HIV/AIDS, Dr. Fauci touched on the importance of communication in public health to move projects forward. He recommended knowing your audience, staying on message, and fostering a sense of community spirit and responsibility.

National Security and Public Health Policy Takeaways

  • Outbreaks happen; build on past experiences to be better prepared, and
  • Political leadership and effective communication are both key to facilitating a strong and successful public health response to (or prevention of) an epidemic.

January 31, 2019

Brookings Institution, The Hamilton Project

Expanding Opportunity at State and Local Levels through Evidence-Based Policymaking

This morning forum, hosted by The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, focused on the importance of accessible and accurate data for effective government decision-making. While the majority of speakers agreed that state and local governments need to have the ability to function independently to best meet the needs of constituents, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper cited the necessity of federal oversight. Hickenlooper discussed the complexities of working across party lines for effective evidence-based policy-making, and his belief that collaboration is only possible “at the speed of trust.”

Justine Hastings, Jeffrey Liebman and Michael Nutter illustrated how data can help policy-makers to understand and better serve their citizens, from inception to implementation of new policies. Essential to this work are the research, technology and scientific communities, and the autonomy to develop innovative solutions.

The final panel session was a conversation between Daniel Shoag, Matthew Turner and Monica Tibbits-Nutt about transportation infrastructure and data, which centered around the challenge of investing in transportation without gentrifying neighborhoods. The group unanimously agreed that collaboration between transportation networks and housing policymakers to ensure equal access to essential services, such as employment, education, health care, food security is essential. Infrastructure investments must be done without displacing original community members because of price increases.

National Security and Public Health Policy Takeaways

  • When trying to make the case that public health and global health are essential to national security:
    • Timing and political will are essential yet unpredictable, and
    • Metrics are money! Metrics can create accountability and opportunity.

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