Program in Global Public Policy and Social Change

Creating “The Global Immune System” to Protect Society from Health Security Threats

Pandemics, antimicrobial resistance, climate change, forced migration, cyberwarfare, bioterrorism, and regional armed conflicts—today we face unprecedented threats to public health. The worldwide potential for harm arises from these threats’ ability to overwhelm and destroy health systems, economies, and geopolitical processes, and undermine the very tools societies need to flourish. 

As health emergencies become more frequent and their consequences graver, we require a new, holistic approach to policy making.  We advocate an approach that is tantamount to building a global immune system—one comprised of multi-sector governing bodies and effective and well-resourced health systems to prevent and mitigate health security threats. 

The mission of the Program in Global Public Policy and Social Change (PGPPSC), an initiative of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School is to prepare multidisciplinary leaders to take on the existential challenges of health security, to implement sound policy to protect and serve the best interests of a global population. By creating a resonant voice and policy hub for global health practitioners, PGPPSC aims to foster coordination among the deeply intertwined health, diplomacy, and security communities, to address global health threats through strong and well governed health systems.

The PGPPSC team consists of seasoned health and policy professionals working closely with Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, Kolokotrones University Professor and chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine. PGPPSC director, Vanessa Kerry, MD, MSc; research director Margaret Bourdeaux, MD, MPH; and policy director Annmarie Sasdi, bring a wealth of experience in frontline healthcare delivery in fragile settings, as well as a deep grounding in policy formulation and advancement for the most pressing social issues.