October 4, 2022
Former Senior Vice President, International Strategy and Global Initiatives and South Asia, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The COVID-19 pandemic has made health care a worldwide focus. Tech companies are developing new products to alleviate global industry needs while advocacy for accessible health care is on the rise as many individuals face heightened and ongoing challenges.
At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Health Forward Summit, Nisha Biswal of the U.S. Chamber led a discussion with leading health and government experts on public-private partnerships in pandemic preparedness. During the panel, Katelyn Jetelina, M.P.H., Ph.D., founder and author of "Your Local Epidemiologist," Jill Shotzberger, Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs at Genentech, and Lisandro Torre, M.P.H., Emergency Response Team Lead at TEPHINET, spoke about health care across the globe, how to prepare for the next pandemic, and what’s in store for the future.
The World Is Learning Lessons from the Current Pandemic to Prepare for the Future
The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way the world operates, impacting society both epidemiologically and socially. In the coming months, Jetelina believes the impact will be felt again, as hospitalizations and the number of confirmed cases are likely to rise due to the colder season.
Looking further, Shotzberger sees the looming threats of future epidemics and pandemics. She believes we should act now rather than wait.
“We need to think about early preparation,” Shotzberger said. “We need to be preparing now for the next pandemic — not just to combat what we're currently dealing with in COVID. That means building out the appropriate infrastructure, streamlining decision-making, and not losing the lessons that we're living right now.”
Additional Investments in the U.S. and Across the World Will Expand Early Detection Efforts
In the face of COVID-19, the global health industry found itself unprepared and in a reactive position. Torre believes taking a proactive approach will fare much better for the future of global health.
“What we want to do in the future is make sure there is that connection to national systems and better communication with international systems,” Torre said. “If we have that, it would shorten the time of disease. It would make us more proactive, rather than reactive, to responses and allow us to address things sooner.”
Taking a proactive approach means preparing in advance and adopting new technologies to alleviate diseases and illnesses.
“We need to strengthen data infrastructure... at the local level, and then somehow connect it all so we can get a national picture of what is going on,” Jetelina said.
Organizations Are Dismantling Health Inequities and Streamlining Surveillance Systems Worldwide
As we look to the future, Shotzberger highlighted some key broad societal lessons that we need to carry to create an accessible future.
“We saw from COVID — and we've known from past influenza surges — that globally and in the U.S., there are certain populations that are disproportionately impacted by these pandemic threats,” Shotzberger said. “We need to continue to work and strive and collaborate together to reduce access barriers so that everyone can access innovative medicines wherever they may be.”
Around the world, organizations have come together to fight the virus. At the international level, Torre sees the importance of maintaining connections so we can advance technology and prepare for more global health challenges.
“That's what gives me hope," said Torre. "I do see us talking more, and I see us — at least at the international level — questioning how to respond and how to support countries. [We’re] trying to support at that local level, [and focusing on] how to strengthen institutions, not just workforce, [and] how to connect better from the local level to the international.”