Surfacing Solutions/Event Recaps

How can we solve pressing public health problems?

Each Forum takes on a serious public health challenge. At the end of our events, we ask our panelists what can be done to help. Here are some answers.


Christine Gregoire

Unprecedented Natural Disasters in a Time of Climate Change: A Governors Roundtable
»Wildfires and Natural Disaster Preparation
West coast wildfires are getting larger and more frequent, and states and provinces must work together to prepare for them continuously, says Christine Gregoire, former governor of Washington. Full video.
November 14, 2019


Lauri Hicks

Solutions recap: Drug-Resistant Infections: Confronting an Escalating Crisis
»Antibiotics and Drug Prescriptions
Thirty percent of antibiotic prescriptions given at doctor’s offices and emergency rooms are unnecessary. These unnecessary prescriptions put patients at risk of side effects and drive the spread of resistance, says Lauri Hicks (CDC). Full video.
October 11, 2019


David Williams

Solutions recap: Mental Health and Wellness for Students of Color
»Biggest Concerns for Students of Color
Students of color report that their biggest concerns are around aggressive policing, community violence, and financial instability, says David Williams (Harvard Chan School). Full video.
September 18, 2019



Gillian Steelfisher

Solutions recap: The Measles Outbreak: Why Vaccines Matter
»Mistrust undermines vaccination campaigns 
Mistrust in traditional institutions undermines vaccination campaigns around the world, but efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan offer lessons on how trust in vaccination can be rebuilt in the United States and elsewhere, says Gillian SteelFisher (Harvard Chan School). Full video.
September 12, 2019


Vaughan Rees

Solutions recap: The E-Cigarette Dilemma: A Public Health Perspective
»Consider the delivery system

The design of e-cigarettes makes them an especially appealing alternative for smokers of traditional cigarettes, but also draws in young first-time smokers, says Vaughan Rees (Center for Global Tobacco Control, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health). Full video.
May 7, 2019



Robert Blendon and Joanne Kenen

Solutions recap: High U.S. Healthcare Costs: What Might Congress Do?
»Understand what Americans are thinking
While drug pricing remains on the minds of Americans, overall healthcare costs are increasingly a concern, says Robert Blendon (Harvard Chan School). Full video.
April 4, 2019



Gina McCarthy and Walter Willett

Solutions recap: Feeding 10 Billion By 2050: Creating a Sustainable and Healthy Food Future
»Shop your own fridge to avoid food waste

Forty percent of food is wasted before it reaches the table, but engaged consumers can reduce that number, says former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy (Harvard Chan School). Full video.
March 22, 2019



Ana Langer (l) and Wanda Barfield

Solutions recap: Deaths From Pregnancy and Childbirth: Why Are More U.S. Mothers Dying and What Can Be Done?
»Many deaths are preventable–we can intervene

Black women are almost four times as likely as white women to die of pregnancy-related complications, but there’s reason for hope, says Wanda Barfield (U.S. Public Health Service/CDC). Full video.
March 4, 2019



Oren Segal (l) and Phillip Martin

Solutions recap: The Spread of Hate and Racism: Confronting a Growing Public Crisis
»The data about extremists does not always connect to the media narrative.
Example highlight: Ninety-eight percent of extremist-related murders are committed by right-wing extremists, says Oren Segal (Center on Extremism, Anti-Defamation League), and 2018 was the fourth-deadliest year for such crimes since the ADL began tracking them in the 1970s. Full video.
February 13, 2019



Laurie Glimcher

Solutions recap: Rare Cancers: Charting a Faster Route to Treatment
»Combination therapy is a key to fighting rare cancers.
Example highlight: To defeat the toughest cancers, doctors will have to combine treatments, rather than looking for a single-drug cure, says Laurie Glimcher (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute). Full video.
February 1, 2019



Richard Frank (l) and Robert Blendon

Solutions recap: The New Congress: What’s Next on Crucial Health and Education Issues?
»Consumers pay list prices for drugs and consequently don’t share in cost-effective gains.
Example highlight: Drug manufacturers, wholesalers, and pharmacy benefit managers make money from price-setting methods, while consumers get hurt, says Richard Frank (Harvard Medical School). Full video.
January 23, 2019




Being Seriously Ill in the U.S.: Financial and Healthcare Impacts
Example highlight: Even people with health insurance can face crippling costs if they get seriously ill, says Bob Blendon (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health/Harvard Kennedy School), according to the results of a New York Times/Commonwealth Fund/Harvard Chan School poll. Full video.
December 5, 2018

The Health and Economic Concerns of Rural Americans
Example highlight: When he picked up a hitchhiker on a cold winter morning, former Ohio governor Ted Strickland gained new insight into how to support rural Americans struggling with addiction. Full video.
November 9, 2018

The 2018 Midterm Elections
Example highlight:After a slowdown in recent years, Medicaid expansion is now on the ballot in multiple states, notes John McDonough. Full video.
November 1, 2018

Stroke: Successes and Setbacks with a Notorious Silent Killer
Example highlight: “Our model for blood pressure can use some innovating,” said CDC’s Janet Wright, offering as an example a project that placed pharmacists in barbershops for simple, community-based referrals. “They showed a dramatic drop in blood pressure—three times more than most of the studies show.” Full video.
October 22, 2018

Conflicts Over Science And Policy At The EPA
Example highlight: “People are going to be hurt very badly” as a result of exposure to substances that are no longer controlled as they once were, said First EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus. Full video.
October 19, 2018

U.S. Drug Prices: Why Are They So High?
Example highlight: “A small number of pricey brand-name drugs are responsible for the lion’s share of prescription spending.” Full video.
September 26, 2018

The Future of Wellbeing: A Conversation with Deepak Chopra
Example highlight: “There are no health care systems officially in the world that are looking at stress, which is the number one epidemic of our civilization, which is directly or indirectly connected to almost every chronic illness, even risk for acute illness.” Full video.
September 12, 2018

Self-Driving Cars: Pros and Cons for the Public’s Health
Example highlight: “Surveys show that less than fifty percent of people really want to have to ride in a driverless vehicle.” Full video.
May 4, 2018

College Students and Mental Health: Confronting an Emerging Crisis
Example highlight: “Mental health has to be treated with the same equity and respect as all health issues.” Full video.
April 17, 2018

Opioids and Addiction: A Governors Roundtable on State Approaches to Treatment
Example highlight: Tremendous stigma persists around opioid dependency that affects public opinion and policy. Full video.
April 12, 2018

The Gun Violence Epidemic: Protecting the Public’s Health
Example highlight: The majority of people with serious mental illnesses are not violent towards other people. Full video.
April 6, 2018

Health in the LGBTQ Community: Improving Care and Confronting Discrimination
Example highlight: LGBTQ youth are disproportionately affected by depression, anxiety and substance use. Full video.
March 21, 2018

Extreme Hurricanes: The Challenges for Puerto Rico and Beyond
Example highlight: Risk spirals when natural disasters meet aging infrastructure. Full video.
March 9, 2018

Heart and Brain Disease in Women: Sex and Gender Connections
Example highlight: The links between heart disease, depression and brain disorders like Alzheimer’s hint at a shared biological origin that we don’t yet understand. Full video.
February 28, 2018

The Flu Outbreak: What You Need to Know
Example highlight: Myth — The vaccine is only 10% effective. Full video. More.
February 13, 2018


Discrimination in America: Native American Experiences
Example highlight: Kids grow up without an accurate portrayal of who are American Indians and Alaska Natives. More.
December 12, 2017

The Health Data Revolution: Improving Outcomes, Protecting Privacy
Example highlight: The tech industry holds many lessons for the healthcare industry. More.
December 5, 2017

The Diabetes Epidemic: The Latest on Treatment and Prevention
Example highlight: The average person with diabetes makes 300 decisions about their self management every day. More.
November 14, 2017

Breakthroughs in Disease Treatment: The Landscape Moving Forward
Example highlight: How did a problem with producing yogurt contribute to gene editing? Here’s an example of the delight of basic science. More.
November 6, 2017

Discrimination in America: African American Experiences
Example highlight: Discrimination is the product of a two-way conversation between policy and people. More.
October 24, 2017

Eradicating Polio: Reaching the Last Child
Example highlight: “We’re still immunizing 450 million children a year, because if there’s polio anywhere, it can spread anywhere.” More.
October 20, 2017

Climate Change: Responses from the Public and Private Sectors
Example highlight: Climate leadership comes from the bottom, not the top. More.
October 13, 2017

The Future of the Affordable Care Act: What Happens Next
Example highlight: Americans are not in love with the ACA — but they don’t want to see millions dropped from coverage. More.
September 27, 2017

Gene Editing: Promises and Challenges
Example highlight: New techniques such as CRISPR and TALENS allow scientists to add, subtract or edit genetic material. These techniques have enormous promise for human health, but raise new ethical and regulatory questions. The public needs better education around these techniques and issues. More.
May 19, 2017

Supplements and Health: Sorting the Facts
Example highlight:  Labeling is often misleading or inaccurate on contents, incorrect effects and dosage, but the public is generally unaware of those issues. Supplements contribute to at least 23,000 emergency room visits annually, but incidents are often misdiagnosed and under-reported. More.
May 11, 2017

The Opioid Crisis: A Governors Roundtable
Example highlight: Addiction to prescription opioids or heroin takes 91 American lives per day, four times the 1999 level, and 1.5 million people are treated for substance use yearly—a real public health issue. Federal funding for opioid treatment quadrupled in recent funding legislation, but in 27 states crystal meth is still the drug of choice. More.
May 5, 2017

Lead Contamination Beyond Flint: Drinking Water and Children’s Health
Example highlight: Cuts to the EPA budget will weaken regulatory enforcement even further and make local and citizen action more critical in getting the lead out of U.S. drinking water. More.
April 20, 2017

Race and Policing: State and Local Perspectives
Example highlight: Both civilians and police officers – in fact, all people – have implicit biases, and often people on both sides of a dispute have undergone trauma. More.
March 27, 2017

Marijuana: The Latest Scientific Findings and Legalization
Example highlight: Regulations on marijuana use are changing rapidly at state and federal levels but remain in conflict and confusing, in part because cannabis remains listed as a Schedule 1 addictive drug. Conflicting state and federal laws are unlikely to be clarified in the near future. More.
March 24, 2017

The 21st Century Cures Act
Example highlight: There’s no guarantee that higher funding will actually materialize. More.
February 27, 2017

Hormone-Altering Chemicals
Example highlight: “We’re all exposed, and we’re all exposed every day” to toxic chemicals called endocrine disruptors, which interfere with hormone function, even at very low concentrations. More.
January 31, 2017


The Future of Food
Example highlight: Farming has never been “natural.” More.
December 13, 2016

The Chronic Pain Epidemic
Example highlight: Chronic pain ruins people’s lives. More.
November 10, 2016

The Domestic Violence Crisis
Example highlight: Civil wars around the world kill far fewer people than interpersonal violence. More.
October 24, 2016

Child Care and Health in America
Example highlight: A poll of 1,100 parents finds most think their child care is excellent, but that they have few or only one option for it and strain to cover the cost. Experts say most child care is only fair, but demand is soaring as parents see its benefits for their children’s development and for their own lives. More.
October 18, 2016

Zika in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Beyond
Example highlight: The Zika virus turns out to be a disease like no other, with many hazards for exposed fetuses beyond microcephaly, as well as for infected adults. More.
September 29, 2016

Eating Disorders, Mental Health and Body Image: The Public Health Connections
Example highlight: EDs have genetic, psychological, and social components and patients may have a history of abuse, depression, and traumatic experiences. These are magnified into fear and compulsive behaviors by stigma and “fat shaming” in misguided health education programs, unrealistic body images in media, and widespread weight discrimination and harassment. More.
September 20, 2016

Health in the American Workplace: Are We Doing Enough?
Example highlight: Financial incentives don’t work if self-care is not a part of the workplace culture. But companies that invest in their workers’ health do show measurable economic gain. More.
July 11, 2016

Asleep at the Wheel–Drowsy Driving and Public Health
Example highlight: Drowsy driving is implicated in a million crashes each year in the U.S. Those are not “accidents” but “crashes” that are 100 percent preventable. Saying “drowsy” driver trivializes the problem. More.
May 10, 2016

Building Resiliency in an Age of Terrorism: Public Health Perspectives
Example highlight: No security measures can reduce the risk of terrorist attacks to zero, so the goal of leaders must be to minimize risk, maximize defenses and promote public resilience through careful and coordinated response preparations. More.
April 25, 2016

Health Care Inequalities in America: The Need for Continuing Reform
Example highlight: The Affordable Care Act has improved health conditions and survival rates for low-income Americans, but polls find almost half say they feel they have to use emergency rooms because nothing else is available to them in their communities, even though most rank services there to be poor-quality. More.
April 20, 2016

Drug Trials: Challenges for Alzheimer’s and Other Urgent Needs
Example highlight: Clinical trials began as a way to eliminate outside factors in proving a drug safe and effective. The Food and Drug Administration now allows flexibility in the classic three-phase trial, so that new drugs meeting unmet or life-threatening needs can follow an expedited approval process. A single phase-3 trial, in addition to confirmatory evidence, is sufficient to meet the efficacy standard. These drugs may be compared to a placebo only and not to active therapy; may be shown to affect a biomarker or other surrogate endpoint, not actual patients; or may undergo only a very short test period.  More.
April 15, 2016

The Zika Crisis—Latest Findings
Example highlight: New research findings have global implications: the Zika virus can apparently spread not just through mosquitoes but also through sexual contact. The situation is evolving and much more needs to be learned, especially about mounting evidence of a direct link to microcephaly, epilepsy and Guillain-Barre syndrome, among other fetal defects. More.
March 4, 2016

Chemical Exposures and the Brain: The Flint Water Crisis and More
Example highlight: The lead contamination that happened in Flint could have happened in many communities in the U.S because of the extent of lead pipe use in the country. Corrosive water can leach lead into drinking water. More.
February 19, 2016

The Aging Workforce: Challenges and Benefits for the Public’s Health
Example highlight: The United States is in an unprecedented demographic transition in which we will soon have more people over age 60 than under age 5. Longer life spans and lower fertility rates are transforming the workforce, the workplace and family dynamics, while challenging current health care and social welfare systems as well as individuals trying to navigate them. More.
February 11, 2016

Preventing Gun Violence: Public Health Perspectives
Example highlight: On average, more than 300 people are shot every day in the United States and, of those, more than 90 die. The United States has more guns and weaker gun laws than other developed countries. While crime rates have declined among all such countries, gun suicide rates in the U.S. are up. More.
January 26, 2016

Cancer and Diet: The Latest on Processed Meats, Fats and More
Example highlight: The idea that diet is linked to cancer arose only in the late 1970s with studies showing U.S. cancer rates higher than in other developed countries. Initial studies finding weak links to fat levels were mistranslated into avoidance of all fats, which led to over-consumption of sugars and carbohydrates and contributed to today’s U.S. obesity epidemic. More.
January 15, 2016