ICYMI: Our 12 Favorite Moments from 2021

Top events, press coverage—from COVID-19 and Ebola, to vaccines and social justice

Posted on Dec 23, 2021

woman receives COVID-19 vaccination in Florida
Trinh Nguyen, left, receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Priscella Caseres, a nurse working at a Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida vaccine inoculation site in Immokalee, Fla. Photo by Scott McIntyre for PIH

The end of 2021 marks two full years in which the world has born the physical, mental, and emotional weight of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this collective burden, people should understand—arguably now more than ever—what many Partners In Health patients, clinicians, and staff have known around the world for more than three decades; everyone deserves the right to health.

Health care is a human right—as a message and rallying cry—has emerged consistently in PIH-supported events and through press coverage the global health and social justice organization has received over the past 12 months. PIHers have shared their global experience tracking and treating infectious diseases, from HIV and tuberculosis to cholera and Ebola, and translated that work into tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

In case you missed the event, article, or broadcast, we curated some of our favorite moments from 2021 below:

1. “Applying the Lessons of Ebola to the Fight Against COVID-19”

PBS Newshour spoke with Co-Founder Dr. Paul Farmer about his newest book, Fevers, Feuds, and Diamonds: Ebola and the Ravages of History, to understand how lessons learned from PIH’s efforts to end the Ebola outbreak in West Africa can be applied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the interview.

2. “The Workers Who Could Get Us Through This Crisis”  

CEO Dr. Sheila Davis and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York wrote an op-ed that appeared in CNN advocating for the creation of a new public health workforce that could address the current pandemic and strengthen long-neglected United States health systems. Read the full op-ed.

3. Women Lead

PIH hosted Women Lead, an online event held in honor of International Women’s Day during which panelists shared advice on overcoming roadblocks, pursuing leadership opportunities, and growing a career during a lively, hourlong discussion.

The panel was moderated by Dr. Jimena Maza, director of teaching and clinical care at Compañeros En Salud, as PIH is known in Mexico, and featured Dr. Paula A. Johnson, president of Wellesley College; Nadya Okamoto, author and founder of August and PERIOD; Dr. Ijeoma Kola, a public health historian and founder of Cohort Sistas; and Padma Lakshmi, TV host and producer, author, and UNDP Goodwill ambassador. The event also featured a special video message from Tsion Yohannes Waka, chair of the Center for Gender Equity at the University of Global Health Equity, a PIH initiative in northern Rwanda. Watch the event.

4. “Building a Fairer, Healthier World Through Accompaniment”

This animated short film, featuring narration by Winston Duke, an actor, producer, and philanthropist, was created in honor of World Health Day. Within one minute, the film covers PIH’s origins and talks about key tenets of our work, such as accompaniment and the “5 S’s”: staff, stuff, space, system, and social support. Watch the film.

5. “What a Donated Vaccine Can Do”

FiveThirtyEight spoke with Jon Lascher, former executive director of PIH Sierra Leone, about the challenges of getting COVID-19 vaccines to impoverished countries for an episode of PODCAST-19. Listen to the podcast.

6. The Rachel Maddow Show

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow spoke with Dr. Joia Mukherjee, PIH’s chief medical officer, about the importance of the United States’ support of the waiver of intellectual property protections on COVID-19 vaccines, which would allow for global mass production and the transfer of patents and know-how for vaccine manufacture—all of which is essential in ending the pandemic. Read the full transcript.

7. “How to Help People Around the World Get Vaccinated”

Mashable spoke as well with Mukherjee for an article it published on the importance of waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines. PIH was featured among a list of organizations to support because of its work advocating for global vaccine equity. Read the article.

8. “They’re Asking Biden to Vaccinate the World. It’s Not Fair. But It’s Not Impossible”

NPR’s Goats and Soda spoke to Farmer to understand why he was among 175 health experts who signed a letter urging U.S. President Joseph Biden to support “an ambitious global vaccine manufacturing program” to control the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the article.

9. “A Day in the Life of a Massachusetts Contact Tracer”

WBUR, an NPR affiliate in Boston, explored the everyday work of contact tracing by interviewing Alexander Bent, a case investigator with the Massachusetts Community Tracing Collaborative, launched by PIH in partnership with Governor Charlie Baker and local boards of health across the Commonwealth. Listen to the story.

10. “The Future of Medical Drone Delivery”

Bloomberg spoke with Dr. Joel Mubiligi, executive director of PIH in Rwanda, and Keller Rinaudo, co-founder and CEO of Zipline, about how Rwandan clinicians are using medical drone deliveries to cater to the needs of patients living far from health care facilities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the segment.

11. Health & Human Rights in Haiti

PIH hosted the online event, Health & Human Rights in Haiti: Through the Eyes of the Diaspora, to examine Haiti’s proud and complex history, its challenging present, and the important roles played by the diaspora. The conversation was moderated by Christa Michaud, PIH’s Haitian diaspora engagement and development officer, and featured the following panelists: Jimmy Jean Louis, an actor/producer and ambassador for the Barbancourt Foundation; Whenda Tima, CEO and founder of L’union Suite; Guerline Jozef, co-founder and executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance; and Ancito Etienne, a PIH trustee. Watch the event.

12. The Power of Partnership

PIH hosted a virtual event entitled The Power of Partnership: A Discussion with Dr. Paul Farmer and John Green in honor of Giving Tuesday. Farmer and Green, a PIH partner and best-selling author, discussed meaningful partnership in global health, the power of accompaniment, and the value of long-term commitment in the fight for equity and health for all. Watch the discussion.

Related Categories
woman holding child smiling

Never miss an article.

Sign up to receive email updates.

Dr. Paul Farmer sharing a friendly moment with one of his staff.

Paul's Promise

As we mourn the passing of our beloved Dr. Paul Farmer, we also honor his life and legacy.

PIH Founders - Jim Kim, Ophelia Dahl, Paul Farmer

Bending the Arc

More than 30 years ago, a movement began that would change global health forever. Bending the Arc is the story of Partners In Health's origins.