What can the US learn from global leaders about contact tracing?

Thursday, May 14, 2020


As the United States focuses on how to safely re-open, contact tracing will be a powerful tool to track and contain new cases. The Aspen Global Innovators Group spoke with Partners In Health leaders Paul Farmer and Shelia Davis about how the organization is using global lessons learned from past pandemics to implement contact tracing and control the pandemic in Massachusetts. The conversation was moderated by Bina Venkataraman, Editorial Page Editor at The Boston Globe.

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Paul Farmer

Co-Founder, Partners In Health

Medical anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer has dedicated his life to improving health care for the world’s poorest people. He is Co-Founder and Chief Strategist of Partners In Health (PIH), an international non-profit organization that since 1987 has provided direct health care services and undertaken research and advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty. Dr. Farmer and his colleagues in the U.S. and abroad have pioneered novel community-based treatment strategies that demonstrate the delivery of high-quality health care in resource-poor settings.

Sheila Davis

CEO, Partners In Health

Dr. Sheila Davis is the Chief Executive Officer at Partners In Health (PIH). Previously, she served as Chief of Clinical Operations and as Chief Nursing Officer, where she oversaw nursing efforts as well as supply chain, medical informatics, laboratory, infrastructure, and quality improvement activities. Starting in 2014, she served as the Chief of Ebola Response as she led PIH’s response efforts during the West Africa epidemic. She has been a nursing leader in the field of HIV/AIDS and served on the National Board of the Association of Nurses AIDS Care (ANAC).  She entered the global health arena in 1999 responding to the global HIV pandemic working in a number of countries.

Bina Venkataraman

Editorial Page Editor, The Boston Globe

Bina Venkataraman is an American journalist, author, and policy expert. She is currently the Editorial Page Editor of The Boston Globe and a fellow at New America. Since 2011, she has taught in the program on science, technology, and society at MIT. She is the author of The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age (Riverhead, 2019), named a top business book by The Financial Times and a best book of the year by Amazon, Science Friday, and National Public Radio.

Bina formerly served as Senior Advisor for Climate Change Innovation in the Obama White House, where she forged partnerships among communities, companies, and government to prepare for climate disasters and to declassify data useful for global development. She also advised the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in responding to the Ebola epidemic, promoting patient access to cancer therapies, and reforming public school science education. She previously was the Director of Global Policy Initiatives at the Broad Institute of Harvard & MIT.