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Webinar - Reclaiming Comprehensive Public Health: What, How, Now!

When:   -
Timezone: UTC+02:00


The various responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have painfully demonstrated the many ways in which people have lost track of the rich heritage and potential of public health. In the face of biosecurity-focused and sometimes authoritarian or even militarized approaches to health, more comprehensive, social determinants, participatory and rights-based public health approaches exist. A lot could be gained from reconnecting more explicitly with the latter approaches, conceptually and practically.

In this interactive webinar we will draw on the recent BMJ Global Health publication Reclaiming Comprehensive Public Health. We will explore what such a ‘reclaim’ would require. What would effective public health in a protracted pandemic such as the COVID-19 amount to, in terms of co-operation, communication, participatory decision-making and action that safeguards the Siracusa principles, respect for human rights and local-level realities and capacities? What impact does over-centralised, top-down, coercive approaches have on public health and what deficiencies can it lead to in the management of COVID-19? What have we learned from COVID-19 and other pandemics of the type of public health approaches that will be more effective to meet 21st century challenges, not justregarding pandemics, but also for the crises relating to climate, food, energy, social inequality and conflict that threaten health?

A kick-off reflection will be followed by five short (5-minute) interventions introducing different perspectives and experiences on the core thematic: reclaiming comprehensive public health: what, how, now? After these short introductions, we will engage around this same key question with all participants.


This webinar will last for 90 minutes and be divided into the following four sections:

  1. Opening: Rene Loewenson (Training and Research Support Centre) will summarize some of the vital discussions held around the recent BMJ Global Health article Reclaiming comprehensive public health’ and capture motivations a comprehensive public health approach and why it needs to be ‘reclaimed’, what such an approach involves, and why it is important in the response to COVID-19, but not only for this. (10 minutes)

  2. Five brief invited reflections (30 minutes): 
    • Abi Deivanayagam (Medical doctor, academic, public health specialist trainee Liverpool, UK) will be sharing lessons learned from the UK setting, where oversimplification, scapegoating and privatisation of public health bodies have taken place. She will explore the importance of clear messaging and trustworthy leaders, shedding light on what a truly resilient and responsive health system could look like. 
    • Ateeb Ahmad Parray(Center of Excellence for Gender, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh) will address the exacerbated inequalities due to 'stringent' public health measures being exercised in response to COVID-19; introducing community perspectives from informal settlements of Bangladesh and India.
    • Leslie London (University of Cape Town) will address how managing the lockdown substantially weakened a comprehensive health system approach, but will also comment on how strong civil society action to hold the state accountable, to self-organize in networks of social solidarity and to link across sectors give us some practical on-the-ground evidence as to how a future health system can be more responsive and comprehensive in its approach to Universal Health Coverage.
    • Eric Sarriot(Save the Children US’s Senior Health SystemsStrengthening Advisor) will talk about the necessity of participatory locally-developed innovations is not merely a philosophical debate between top-down and bottom-up, which is but a necessity for the viability of complex multi-level systems (global, central/national, local and community). He will introduce examples about how the challenges brought upon us by Covid-19, much like the challenges of the HIV era, demand "local agency", not just for local adaptation—which everyone agrees upon more or less—but also for local design of innovative solutions to "wicked" contextual challenges.
    • Moses Tetui(Senior research fellow at the Department of Health Policy Planning and Management at the Makerere University School of Public Health) will discuss the reawakening of the fight against social injustices through public health.
  3. Open Discussion (40 minutes) 
  4. Concluding remarks and action moving forward (10 minutes)

Our panelists


Rene Loewenson

Dr. Rene Loewenson is an epidemiologist and director of Training and Research Support Centre. Since 1980, she has implemented research, participatory action research, policy analysis, training and mentoring of work and has led various international research consortia on equity in health, social determinants of health and health systems, on social participation in health, on policy change in family and child health and wellbeing and on public health law and practice. She is a founder member of EQUINET, co-ordinates the Shaping health consortium; has been a member/ chair of national and global bodies on health.


Abi Deivanayagam

Dr. Abi Deivanayagam is a medical doctor, academic and public health specialist trainee based in Liverpool, UK. Her research and teaching focuses on health systems, climate and racism. She graduated from Newcastle University Medical School in 2017, holds a Masters in Philosophy, Politics and Economics of Health from UCL, and is currently undertaking a Masters in Public Health at the University of Liverpool. She serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Students for Global Health, a student-led charity working to tackle health inequalities, through advocacy, education and community action. Abi is an academic contributor at Race and Health, and an associate researcher at Stema. She is a keen advocate for intersectional environmentalism. ( |


Ateeb Ahmad Parray

Ateeb Ahmad Parray is a Fellow at the center of excellence for Gender, Sexual and Reproductive health and rights, at the BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He holds a Master's degree in Public health from BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University. He also serves as the Country Director (Bangladesh) of STAR Scholars network which envisions to advance global social mobility by using research and advocacy. He works in the area of Gender, Intersectionality, SRHR, Health systems and Health policy with a special focus on marginalized populations including informal settlement dwellers and refugee populations.Ateeb will talk about the exacerbated inequalities due to 'stringent' public health measures being exercised in response to COVID-19. He will elucidate the community perspectives from informal settlements of Bangladesh and India.


Leslie London

Leslie London is a Professor in Public Health in the School of Public Health and Family Medicine University of Cape Town, South Africa and active member of Steering Committees for the Peoples Health Movement South Africa and of the Network on Equity in Health in Southern Africa (EQUINET). He has led a 20-year programme on human rights and public health, with interest in public health policy and its synergy and tensions visavis human rights approaches. His research includes work on the right to health, community participation as a key element of the right to health, environmental health and environmental justice, conflict of interest in public health and the role  of corporate and commercial determinants of health.


Eric Sarriot

Eric Sarriot is Save the Children US’s Senior Health Systems Strengthening Advisor. He holds an MD from Paris, a PhD from Johns Hopkins University, and has over 25 years’ experience in community health and health systems research and practice, with a focus on the mysteries of sustainability and systems.


Moses Tetui

Dr. Moses Tetui is a Senior research fellow at the Department of Health Policy Planning and Management at the Makerere University School of Public Health. He is also affiliated to the Department of Epidemiology and Global Health in Umea University, Sweden. Moses has an implementation science and health-systems research experience that spans over 10 years. His research focus is in building health systems that are responsive to the needs of the vulnerable poor in resource-limited settings. His works have focused mainly on maternal, neonatal and reproductive health, health management, knowledge translation and more recently urban health. Additionally, Moses lectures and supervises both post- and undergraduate students in subjects related to his expertise. He hopes for - and will focus on - “A reawakening of the fight against social injustices”.


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