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February 27, 2021

A Conversation with Dr. Eric Goosby

By Abby Donnelly (NHS'23)

Through the course “Conversations in Global Health,” students were joined by the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Tuberculosis, Dr. Eric Goosby. Previously, Dr. Goosby has served as global AIDS coordinator and currently directs the Center for Global Health Delivery and Diplomacy at the University of California, San Francisco. Through this discussion, Dr. Goosby’s wide expertise offered insight on the discourse of international health issues today, including the epidemics of COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, and other infectious diseases. This dialogue knitted together the fabric of medicine, government, and society in creating a holistic approach to saving lives worldwide.

Under the Obama administration, Dr. Eric Goosby led the enactment of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which allotted the largest governmental financial investment to date for any disease towards the HIV/AIDs epidemic. With this particular disease affecting disproportionately marginalized communities and impoverished regions, PEPFAR realizes the greatest potential in low- and middle-income countries, many in Sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Eric Goosby elaborated on the barriers, such as access to technology, to expanding PEPFAR, and the resilience and perseverance of global health leaders to reaching remote communities. In his work, he depicted the power and potential of universal commitment to eradicating treatable and preventable diseases that have inflicted suffering for decades, particularly as global health responds to future diseases beyond the current pandemic.

From the villages of Kenya to the city of Washington, DC, inclusion and representation have never been more important. In medical faculty and in pandemic responses, the more voices heard, the better. Dr. Goosby discussed the importance of diversity, particularly within the global health industry, and how there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It takes a collective and focused effort to ensure that in each and every effort, teams are doing their part to promote equity and inclusion. This systematic issue will take considerable and intentional movements by international institutions to fully represent the people they serve.

Global health has never been a more involved issue than it is today. Alongside COVID-19, competing epidemics, such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, are similarly desperate for solutions, treatments, and safety. Global health leaders, including Dr. Eric Goosby, have many diverse priorities around the world, and it has become a growing issue to rein in diseases that are mutating and changing before our eyes. Despite these challenges, public service officials have never faced and responded so quickly to an epidemic like that of COVID-19. Ultimately, Dr. Eric Goosby offered unequivocal hope, especially for students, that these efforts can make a tangible difference around the globe, and that as a nation and interconnected planet, we will be better prepared to protect, serve, and conquer the next crisis to come our way.

Abby Donnelly (NHS'23) is a sophomore in the School of Nursing and Health Studies majoring in global health and is a student in the Conversations in Global Health course.