The Task Force for Global Health is leveraging our global partnerships and capabilities and pivoting existing programs to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The Task Force’s breadth of experience and depth of expertise in strengthening health systems in more than 150 countries supports global, national and local efforts to control the COVID-19 outbreak and protect the world from future pandemics.
How We're Responding
We are utilizing our existing partnerships and capabilities to pivot our programs in innovative ways to respond to this global health emergency. Due to our history of building powerful partnerships, we are also collaborating with new partners to initiate innovative ways to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the following ways:
Protecting the Health of Populations from Pandemics
We are also contributing to longer-term, systemic improvements through initiatives on equity and reducing stigma and publishing research to inform program and policy improvements. We are adapting vital health programs that have been halted or reduced because of the pandemic, such as polio and leprosy, to mitigate the impact of the disruption, as well as positioning existing programs to help with long-term response, like using influenza vaccine systems for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine once available. In addition, we are bringing our global health expertise home and helping the community in our backyard respond to this and future public health crises.
Task Force programs have pivoted to respond to the current impacts of COVID-19, strengthen systems for the future, and restart disease control and elimination efforts.
Seasonal Influenza – Influenza program infrastructure is already supporting the efforts to fight COVID-19 and will be utilized to respond to COVID-19 once a vaccine becomes available. The Task Force’s Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction is adapting seasonal influenza vaccine systems and pandemic influenza technical guidance for when a COVID-19 vaccine is ready for distribution to the global population.
Polio – Modifying polio eradication operations and other routine immunization interventions that have been disrupted so they can still achieve key immunization and surveillance targets.
Leprosy – COVID-19 has strongly impacted leprosy control and prevention, and in response, The Task Force’s Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy has established three working groups to address the leprosy community’s key challenges during the global health crisis, and spearhead emergency response.
Viral Hepatitis – The Task Force’s Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination‘s Director, John Ward, MD, and George Lau, MD, of the Humanity & Health Medical Group, Hong Kong SAR, China, brought together recommendations from liver associations in Asia, Europe and the United States to provide guidance on how to move forward with care of viral hepatitis and liver disease, including liver transplants during the pandemic while modifying management of patients with hepatitis to protect medical personnel and their patients.
Polio – Our Polio Eradication Surge Capacity Support team is modifying polio eradication operations and other routine immunization interventions that have been disrupted so they can still achieve key immunization and surveillance targets.
Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) Supply Chains – Through the Supply Chain Forum, our Children Without Worms is working with ministries of health and other partners to address supply chain challenges for NTDs, alter interventions to fit new social distancing protocols, and inform those affected by NTDs how to continue to get treatment and minimize their vulnerability of coronavirus infection.
All Hands on Deck – The Task Force’s Children Without Worms (CWW) Program Director, Rubina Imtiaz, MD, co-authored a call for a unified response to the coronavirus pandemic with other international public health experts. The publication draws on experiences from previous epidemic outbreaks like the Ebola outbreaks and the successes of multilateral platforms like the NTD Supply Chain Forum, facilitated by CWW, to form a global, COVID-19 mitigation framework with tools for a collaborative pandemic response.
Lessons Learned from Smallpox Eradication – Task Force co-founder, William H. Foege, MD, MPH, shares lessons learned from his experiences with the smallpox eradication effort 40 years ago and how they can be applied to today’s global health emergency.
Challenging Stigma with Compassion During COVID-19 – The Task Force’s Focus Area for Compassion and Ethics published a piece on how stigma from COVID-19 infection needs to be challenged with compassion.
The COVID-19 Pandemic: An Epidemiologic, Public Health, and Clinical Brief – The Task Force’s Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination’s, John Ward, MD, and Carlos del Rio, MD, the Executive Associate Dean, Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Health System, chart the course of COVID-19 pandemic, update the epidemiology of transmission and warn of the co-factors for severe COVID-19.
Stigma in the Time of COVID-19 – Stigma has played a significant role in many diseases and especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
As proud members of our local community of Atlanta, GA and DeKalb County, The Task Force was asked by DeKalb County CEO, Michael Thurmond, to join the DeKalb County’s COVID-19 Task Force. On this special task force, we are advising DeKalb County on pandemic response efforts such as reopening plans and on measures to protect the health and safety of the DeKalb county community.
As a part of this effort, we joined Michael Thurmond and other local public health officials for a virtual town hall meeting to answer citizens’ questions. Learn more.
A History of Pandemic Preparedness and Response
For more than four decades, we have been working to prepare countries’ health systems around the world to respond to outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics. Strong health systems are at the core of ensuring countries can effectively protect the health of their populations during public health emergencies without seriously altering society with lockdowns.
Our Head of Health System Strengthening, Patrick O'Carroll, MD, MPH, talks about our programmatic expertise in strengthening health systems and its importance to protecting the health of a country's populations. Watch.