The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated health disparities in Wisconsin and across the world. The challenges of equity and systemic racism have been magnified as protests at the death of George Floyd from police brutality ignited a movement for justice, locally and globally. Bringing together diverse campus, community and international voices—including UW faculty, health care providers, public health experts and policy makers—the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI) is hosting a new webinar series, “COVID & Equity: What We’ve Learned; Where We Go From Here.”

The series begins July 23 and continues July 30, August 20 and August 27, moving from local to global challenges and lessons learned to planning for the future. The first three panel presentations will be from 9-10 a.m. Central Daylight time. Registration information for each session is below.

Panelists come from Wisconsin and span the globe. They include Lisa Peyton Caire, CEO and founder of the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness; Stewart Simonson, WHO Assistant Director General, and Heounohu Romello Hessou, clinical coordinator of Liberia’s National COVID-19 Isolation and Treatment Center. The moderators contribute experience in international and local public health, public policy and clinical medicine.

In each webinar, panelists will explore issues of health equity, what we have learned from the pandemic and how we can move toward a more equitable and sustainable future for all. The webinars will also lay the groundwork for a series of policy briefs to further conversation on these issues of critical importance.

“Equity and justice are core to addressing global health challenges,” says GHI Director Jonathan Patz. “The coronavirus pandemic and institutional racism highlight the complex and interconnected causes of inequity that we must address to move forward. With these seminars, the Institute draws on the strength of its network to shed light on health disparities and point the way toward a more equitable and sustainable future.”

Here’s a closer look at each panel:

July 23: “Improving Health Equity in Wisconsin” will examine poverty, race and health in the state’s communities impacted by inequities. Who’s at risk? Who receives care? How can we develop effective, equitable and sustainable partnerships and policies that respect communities and advance their well-being? Sheri Johnson, director of the UW-Madison Population Health Institute, moderates the panel that includes Lisa Peyton Caire, CEO and founder of Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, Paula Tran Inzeo, director of the Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH) program, and Lakita Maulson, a UW medical student in the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine from the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe Nation. Register for the webinar here.

July 30: “Institutions Respond: Ensuring Equitable Care” will explore how institutions, including the World Health Organization and World Bank, have responded to the pandemic. What policies have guided the response? How have they failed communities of color? How can institutional bias be addressed? Who will ensure care is available to all? Ambassador John E. Lange, senior fellow for Global Health Diplomacy at the United Nations Foundation, moderates the panel that includes Stewart Simonson, WHO assistant director general; Graham Harrison, senior science and technology specialist with the World Bank’s Africa Centers of Excellence (ACE) Impact Project, and Sumudu Atapattu, director of Research Centers and senior lecturer at the UW-Madison Law School. Register for the webinar here.

August 20: “Lessons from Abroad: From Ebola to COVID” will consider the experience in countries that have the fewest resources to combat COVID. What has guided their response to the pandemic? What kinds of biases must they recognize? What can other countries learn from their successes? How do western nations overcome vestiges of colonialism to become equitable partners for change? GHI Associate Director Janis P. Tupesis, an emergency medicine physician who’s worked with WHO and the World Bank, moderates the session. Panelists include Mohammed Dunbar, a former Mandela Washington fellow and public health officer in Liberia; Heounohu Romello Hessou, clinical coordinator of Liberia’s National COVID-19 Isolation and Treatment Center, and Michelle Niescierenko, director of the Global Health Program and assistant professor of Pediatrics & Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School. Register for the webinar here.

August 27: “Moving Forward: Building a More Equitable World” will explore what we can do today to build greater equitable and sustainable health for all. Where are the opportunities for greater equity in environmental, social, economic and health policies? How can we build on the strengths of all stakeholders and ensure all voices are heard? Watch this page for more information.