Medical Community Must Become More Politically Engaged To Advance Global Health

New England Journal of Medicine: Politics and Pandemics
Ron Klain, lecturer at Harvard Law School and White House Ebola response coordinator from 2014-2015

“… If the world is to tackle many factors that raise our risk of a devastating pandemic, the medical community may have to enter theaters of operation beyond the laboratory bench and the treatment unit and publicly engage with controversial issues that some observers would consider nonmedical. Indeed, I believe that only such efforts can save us from the social trends, political movements, and policy failures that are elevating our risk of a pandemic. … What can the medical community do in the face of [isolationism and xenophobia, antiscientific thinking and resistance to evidence-based medicine, and disease-related danger from climate change]? All these dangers, in my view, require medical professionals to become more politically engaged. … The medical community can begin by stepping up pressure on policymakers to adopt the measures needed to improve our preparations for and ability to respond to epidemics. … In addition, physicians can advocate for and provide counsel about building out and improving our global response systems. … Finally, and perhaps most fundamentally, medical professionals can step into the public arena to take on unpleasant and contentious political issues such as isolationism, climate change, and demagogic populism. … The men and women of this community are in a position to help make us all safer by wading into difficult and divisive issues that are undermining our global capacity to face down a future pandemic” (11/7).