Program in Global Public Policy and Social Change

Program Background

The Program in Global Public Policy and Social Change (PGPP), an initiative in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, was created in the spirit and acknowledgment of Dr. Farmer’s understanding of “accompaniment.”  PGPP interrogates and informs the policies, structures and systems that determine the conditions in which patients live, and their vulnerability to disease and health crises.

Our work aims to address the three critical levers to creating an ecosystem of health security from the individual to the community to globally: health system strengthening, medical countermeasure access, and equitable and accessible health systems for individuals and communities. We accomplish this by:

  •  Conducting research and disseminating policy analysis that highlights health system failures and illuminates the path to system reform to promote health access and equity. Our focus is on individuals and populations who are disproportionately disadvantaged in terms of health care, whether due to armed conflict, natural disasters, pandemics, or simply poverty.
  • Our unique “practice to policy” approach brings practitioners together with academia to best understand how health-relevant institutions and systems are operating, and how they can change the way they function to improve the conditions in which patients live. 
  •   We convene multi-sector policy leaders with practitioners and patients to, together, examine the policy challenges at the heart of mitigating health crises such as pandemics, armed conflicts, and climate-related disasters.  We help them identify and propose policy options for addressing these challenges and we evaluate their likely impacts and consequences.
  •   We educate students and professionals so the current and next generation of global health practitioners possesses the tools to understand, interrogate, analyze, formulate and implement equity-centered health-related policies and health system-strengthening strategies.
“During my first years in Haiti I thought of accompaniment as an idea most applicable in medical care—doing whatever it takes to cure the sick. Yet I realized that if my role as a doctor was to really cure them, then I had to step outside the traditional confines of my profession and address the conditions in which [patients] lived...”
Dr. Paul Farmer, 2011