“There is almost no area of our lives, our communities or societies that has not been impacted by COVID-19. Similarly, there is no area that has not been untouched by the measures introduced by the authorities to try to halt the spread of the virus. All the while, there has been a scientific scramble to find and produce vaccinations and treatments. Few of us could have imagined the impact whenever we first heard the term ‘global pandemic’ back in February and March 2020.
It was perhaps even harder to imagine what an unfolding battle would look like as governments and states rallied – in sometimes very divergent ways – to halt the spread of the virus and to provide treatments to people infected. Over the course of the last year, we have seen public health advice come into conflict with economic lobby interests and in some countries, the wholesale rejection of science by some political leaders. All this has contributed to deeply unequal access to vaccines.
We cannot forget the responses across communities and institutions, the mobilisation of massive resources, and the grassroots projects rooted in mutual aid and cooperation within and across national borders. All of this providing not just concrete support in suppression and treatments around COVID19, but also affording experiences about the nature of development itself. COVID-19 reminds us of the simplicity of our common humanity on one planet yet at the same time illuminates the deeply complex and very often contradictory historical systems of power, decision-making and group interests that rub against the ideas and practice of global solidarity.
One year on, we have brought together a panel to explore their perspectives, knowledge and reflection. You’ll hear their thoughts on the specific challenges and spaces and practices of hope for real solidarity in global health as the battle against COVID-19 continues to be central to all our lives.
Join us as Comhlámh and the Department of International Development in Maynooth continue our new season of #FirstWeds conversations. We are as ever grateful for the support of Concern in organising our First Weds
Our panel includes:
Nadine Ferris France: Nadine is the Executive Director for the Irish Global Health Network and ESTHER Ireland. She is a communicator, writer, trainer and civil society activist with over 20 years’ experience in gender, HIV and global health. She has worked extensively with global, regional and national civil society networks on HIV and TB for many years as the co-founder and Executive Director of Health & Development Networks (HDN).
In addition to her experience within the NGO-field, she has also worked extensively with the World Health Organization and also lectures with various academic institutions. She is currently a member of the Programme Advisory Panel for the Robert Carr Civil Society Network Fund and the European AIDS Treatment Group.
David Weakliam: David is Global Health Programme Director in the Health Service Executive. Trained as a medical specialist in General Practice and Public Health Medicine, he has worked since 1988 in global health, including 12 years leading and managing health programmes in Sudan, Liberia, Nepal, Ghana and DRC. On return to Ireland he worked as Health Adviser in Irish Aid from 2003 to 2007. He is current Chair of the Board of the European ESTHER Alliance which supports North-South institutional health partnerships, and leads Ireland’s ESTHER programme.
Robbie Lawlor: Robbie became active within the HIV community since his diagnosis in 2012. Robbie is a member of Act Up Dublin, European AIDS Treatment Group, and is a co-founder of Access to Medicines Ireland. Robbie is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Dublin City University and has a particular interest in grassroots activism and the access to medicines movement in Eastern Europe. His research is exploring HIV/HEP C treatment activism in Ukraine.