June 2020

Note from the Director

Dear Friends of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University,
We at the FXB Center have been deeply affected by the events unfolding in the United States. While the continued disregard for the lives and basic human rights of Black people is embedded in America's DNA, it is even more difficult to endure this during a pandemic that has disproportionately killed Black and Latino people in the United States. It is understandable that people are feeling outraged. Now more than ever, we must acknowledge the realities of being Black in America and stand in solidarity with the Black community to drive urgent change.
I am proud that FXB Center, along with 19 other Harvard University centers committed to human rights (number is growing as we go to press), issued a joint statement condemning the police custody murder of George Floyd and calling for systemic changes and justice for Black people who have died at the hands of police and vigilantes. As our statement reads, "we affirm the values of racial equity, justice, and non-violence. For the future of the United States, our public leaders must urgently do the same."
Dr. Mary T. Bassett
Congratulations, 2020 Graduates!

Child Protection Certificate Ceremony

For the sixth year running (but for the first time via Zoom), the FXB Center  awarded an interdisciplinary qualification in child protection to Harvard graduate students who completed the program successfully.  Representing almost all of Harvard's graduate schools, they have different career paths, but share the common goal of making the world a better place for children. As Professor Jacqueline Bhabha said, we are glad to welcome this year's talented recipients of the Child Protection Certificate as colleagues in standing up for children's rights around the world.

Learn more about the program led by Professor Bhabha and facilitated by Rebecca Shin, FXB Center Strategy Officer. If you are interested in this field, you may also want to explore the FXB Center's popular free online course, Child Protection: Children's Rights in Theory and Practice.
 2020 Graduates Affiliated with the FXB Center
Jaquelyn Jahn, a social epidemiologist, received the Population Health Sciences PhD. Her research aims to bring to light the consequences of punitive social policies in the U.S. for population health and health equity.

Gabriel Schwartz, also a social epidemiologist, similarly received the Population Health Sciences PhD. He studies how neighborhoods and social policy shape health inequalities.

Dr. Maggie Sullivan received her Doctor of Public Health
degree (DrPH) earlier in the academic year and joined the FXB Center this spring where she works on homelessness and the health of Spanish-speaking immigrant popul ati ons. At this year's graduation, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health honored her with the Albert Schweitzer Award. 
Congratulations, Dr. Jahn, Dr. Schwartz, and Dr. Sullivan! 
Covid-19 Advocacy and Research
Racism Is a Deadly Virus, Too: A public health  
defense of these mass protests, Opinion,  
New York Daily News, June 5   
Protestors in New Orleans, June 2020 by Pambana Bassett
By Mary T. Bassett, Caroline Buckee, and Nancy Krieger 
"Protesters are in the streets demonstrating against police brutality and white supremacy not because they are indifferent to the risk of COVID-19. They are doing what they can to protect themselves and their communities precisely because the institutions that are supposed to protect and serve them have been killing black people in this country far longer than the coronavirus has."  Read more.
Child Repatriation in the Time of COVID-19, Jacqueline Bhabha and Vasileia Digidiki, Rethinking Refuge, Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University, June 4  
Child at Moria camp, Dec 2019 by Hector Lucero
"As with so many areas of social concern, the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified existing issues in the child migration context. It illuminates socio-economic challenges, laying bare deep-seated policy inequities and their devastating impact on the millions of children forced to leave their homes across the globe.Read more.
Anti-Roma Hatred on Streets of Budapest, Opinion, EU Observer, June 3
By Jacqueline Bhabha and Margareta Matache
"This collective scapegoating of an oppressed and stigmatised community for individual criminal activity (whatever the ethnicity of the perpetrator) is a well-worn neo-fascist strategy....
Remarkably, no national or EU leader has publicly condemned the aggressive and open dissemination of violent hate speech in Hungary's capital.
Only Budapest's mayor Gergely Karácsony has raised his voice in protest.
Silence of this sort is potentially lethal..."

Natalia Linos, interviewed by Terri Wilder
"Epidemics always show the worst in us. Because those who have the means, and those who have the privilege, are able to benefit-to stay home to protect themselves-and those who don't, don't. So, a human rights-based response means that the governments, local authorities, need to take into account those needs first." Read more.
Cities Are Safe Places to Live, Even in a Pandemic, Opinion, The New York Times, May 15
By Mary T. Bassett
Covid-19 " is devastating cities like New York because of the structure of health care, the housing market and the labor market, not because of their density." Read more. 
Which Covid-19 Data Can You Trust? Harvard Business Review , May 8
By Satchit Balsari, Caroline Buckee, Tarun Khanna
"The Covid-19 pandemic has created a tidal wave of data.... While you may not be qualified to evaluate the particulars of every dashboard, chart, and study you see, there are common red flags to let you know data might not be reliable." Read more.
The Shameful Resurgence of Violent Scapegoating in a Time of Crisis, Open Democracy, May 5  

Dr. Leaning, Professor Bhabha
By Margareta Matache, Jennifer Leaning, and Jacqueline Bhabha
"Though a global pandemic poses a risk to everyone, the most marginalized among us are subjected to additional challenges. Members of Europe's Roma population have long been identified as 'outsiders...' Countering the rising wave of anti-Roma hatred, hate speech, and violence associated with responses to the pandemic is an urgent European priority." Read more.
Dr. Matache
With Dr. Aluízio de Azevedo Silva Júnior of the Brazilian Ministry of Health, Dr. Matache wrote about global anti-Roma racism and Roma resistance in an FXB Center blog, "Standing Up Against Anti-Romani Racism During A Pandemic." 
Public Health Calls for Solidarity, Not Warfare, Opinion, Foreign Affairs April 30 
By Natalia Linos and Mary T. Bassett
Dr. Bassett, Dr. Linos 
 "Saving lives during this pandemic will require a different approach from simply 'policing bad behavior.' Individual failures are not driving high rates of infection-rather, the infection reveals structural failures in the manner in which societies are organized." Read more. 

Dr. Digidiki, Professor Bhabha
By Vasileia Digidiki and Jacqueline Bhabha
"Without effective and coordinated action, the pandemic will immobilize the Union's most precarious and embattled member. This would spell disaster for Lesvos, for Greece and, ultimately, for the European Union as a whole.Read more.
Statement on Xenophobic and Racist Actions in Response to COVID-19, April 23

The FXB Center joined with nine other Harvard centers in this condemnation. "All forms of xenophobia and racism, which only serve to worsen fear, are not helpful for the safety and wellbeing of everyone around us." Read more.
Dr. Bassett and Professor Muhammad
Since the  end of April, the FXB Center faculty have been actively participating in several online opportunities.  Dr. Mary T. Bassett has appeared virtually in several webinars and videos including:
Clockwise from left: Dr Raman, Professor Bhabha, Ambassador Chihombori-Quaoi, Ms. Nwoka
Professor Jacqueline Bhabha moderated:
  • Combating Racism and Xenophobia during COVID-19, with Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao, Milliscent Nnwoka, Reporter for Channels TV Nigeria; Sushma Raman, Executive Director, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy; hosted by Harvard University Center for African Studies in partnership with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention; and cosponsored by the FXB Center, the Carr Center, and Channels TV. Watch the video; read the summary.
  • Professor Bhabha also moderated COVID-19 and Human Rights in South Asia for the Kennedy School student-led South Asia Interest Group.  
  • She served as a panelist for Neglected Epidemics of India: How will COVID-19 affect them, sponsored by the Mittal Institute and the Department of Social and Global Medicine at the Harvard Medical School.  
Professor Jennifer Leaning moderated:
  • Reopening: Balancing Public Health, Safety, Human Rights, and the Economy, with Drs. Ashish K. Jha and Martin McKee, for Physicians for Human Rights. Find the webinar video on their webinar series page.
  • She also continued in her conversations with Mô Bleeker, Special Envoy,
    Dr. Bleeker, Dr. Leaning
    Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs and Chair of Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes (GAAMAC), about issues common to COVID-19 and atrocity prevention for GAAMAC's Prevention Talks Series.  Session 2 addresses effective strategies; Session 3 leadership and political will.  Watch here.
 FXB Leadership Continues to Work with the Poor People's Campaign
On May 3, the Poor People's Campaign Health Justice Advisory Committee, on which the FXB Center's Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Executive Director Natalia Linos and Director of Communications Veronica Lewin serve, issued a statement: Coordinated and Evidence-Based Easing of Social Distancing Restrictions That Centers Equity and Justice is the Only Way to Save Lives and Protect the Poor During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In mid-May, the Poor People's Campaign called for noncooperation with the dangerous and reckless policies to ease social distancing restrictions and reopen the economy-- instead of providing real relief. Dr. Bassett spoke at both the live press conference on May 13 and the May 14 COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall, launching
"Stay in Place. Stay Alive. Organize! And Don't Believe the Lies!"

As part of the Poor People's Campaign Health Justice Advisory Committee, Dr. Bassett and Dr. Linos signed an open letter to theMcDonald's CEO, asking for better protections for its workers due to the pandemic: FXB Center Leadership Calls for Protections for McDonald's Employees.     
In "We are expendable": black Americans pay the price as states lift lockdowns,
the May 25 Guardian covered many of the issues which the Poor People's Campaign has been raising about communities of color and the disproportionate burden they face with COVID-19, quoting from its cofounder Reverend Dr. William Barber, Dr. Bassett, and other members of the PPC Health Justice Advisory Committee. Read Dr. Barber's May 31 Pastoral Letter to the Nation for further insights into recent US protests as a cry for justice in the face of centuries of systemic racism. 
 Other Recent Highlights
 Structural Racism, Historical Redlining, and Preterm Birth in New York City, American Journal of Public Health, May 21
Census Tracts ( n=2166)  by 1938 Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) Grade New York City
Nancy Krieger, Gretchen Van Wye, Mary Huynh, Pamela D. Waterman, Gil Maduro, Wenhui Li, R. Charon Gwynn, Oxiris Barbot, and Mary T. Bassett  
"Historical redlining was associated with present-day risk of preterm birth and warrants scrutiny as a social determinant of health.... Analysis of historical redlining and health indicates how using the lens of structural racism, informed by history, can spark new and needed research to strengthen work to understand, rectify, and prevent health inequities." Read More.

Conducting operational research in humanitarian settings: is there a shared path for humanitarians, national public health authorities and academics? Conflict and Health, May 13  

Photo of refugee families in Lebanon by Lara Jirmanus
By E. Leresche, C. Truppa, C. Martin, A. Marnicio, R. Rossi, C. Zmeter, H. Harb, R. S. Hamadeh, and J. Leaning   
 "In humanitarian contexts, it is a difficult and multi-faceted task to enlist academics, humanitarian actors and health authorities in a collaborative research effort. This paper analyses in two steps a collaborative empirical endeavour to assess health service utilization by Syrian refugee and Lebanese women undertaken by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center at Harvard." Read more.
More from the FXB Center
Selected FXB Center in the Media    
Social Solidarity 
Stay in Touch

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Join us in highlighting practices and policies helpful to vulnerable people who suffer disproportionate harm in the epidemic by using the hashtag #humanepolicy or #policyforgood on your social media posts and share ours.

FXB Fellows and Affiliates, Past and Present

As well as presenting a webinar for the FXB Center recently. Professor Cécile Aptel, director of policy, strategy and knowledge at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, coauthored COVID-19 and Contact Tracing: A Call for Digital Diligence, a blog in Humanitarian Law and Policy, ICRC website, May 13.
Dr. Lara Jirmanus coauthored Listen To Essential Workers First. Then, We Can Consider Reopening The Economy, Commentary, WBUR's Cognoscenti,  May 7.

Dr. Ilhan Ozen, a 2018-2020 fellow who had to return to Turkey early due to the pandemic, writes that he referenced Dr. Bassett and Professor Bhabha in a paper, COVID-19 and the Future of the World Economy and Populations, for the Turkish journal,  Science and Society. The paper became a radio presentation, available online in Turkish,
What Will Be the Economic Coordinates of the New Normal in the World With COVID-19? He also participated as a panelist in a virtual roundtable at Harvard, "Mobility and Pandemic: Where Are We, Lessons from the Past, and Possible Futures."

Fellows and affiliates, do keep us up to date with publications and professional milestones. We are thinking of you. Email us at fxbcenter_info@hsph.harvard.edu.
Let's Stay In Touch!