COVID-19 | Events, Webinars, and Expert Discussions

PHR is using global digital platforms to elevate the voices of health care professionals on the front lines.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, PHR is using its global digital platforms to elevate the voices of health care professionals on the front lines of this crisis. Launched in March 2020, PHR’s webinar series aims to educate advocates and health providers alike in these uncertain times. Sign up here to receive invitations to future webinars.


Upcoming Webinar

Since very early in the COVID-19 pandemic, messages of hope about the potential for the pandemic to catalyze radical social change – from universal health care to racial equity to climate justice – have emerged from diverse sectors and societies around the world. This sense of hope is not unique to the pandemic and is often expressed and acted upon in times of crisis. What actually makes such transformation possible, and how can we better understand and create the conditions for radical change that benefits all people and the planet?

On Thursday, October 1, at 12:30 p.m. EDT, Physicians for Human Rights will host a conversation to delve deeper into the transformational potential of the COVID-19 pandemic. The conversation will be moderated by Jonathan Cohen, JD, MPhil, director of the public health program at the Open Society Foundations, and May van Schalkwyk,BMedSc(Hons), MBBS, MPH, National Institute for Health Research doctoral research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Our panelists will be:

  • Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH, dean and Robert A. Knox Professor at Boston University School of Public Health
  • Nancy Krieger, PhD, professor of social epidemiology in the department of social and behavioral sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH), and director of the HSPH Interdisciplinary Concentration on Women, Gender, and Health
  • Mariana Mazzucato, PhD, professor of the economics of innovation and public value at University College London where she is founding director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose

Featured Webinars

Policing and Public Health

PHR hosted a conversation on policing and public health, focusing on the impact of harmful law enforcement practices in the age of COVID-19. Our moderator was Mary Bassett, MD, MPH, director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, FXB Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health, and former commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Protecting Health Care Workers Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

On May 28, 2020, The Lancet Editor-in-Chief and PHR Board Member Dr. Richard Horton moderated a discussion on protecting health care workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel featured nurse Howard Catton, Dr. Michele Heisler, and Dr. Otmar Kleiber, who discussed the alarming public targeting of frontline health care workers and what we can do to protect and better support them in their critical roles as we face the COVID-19 pandemic.

Homelessness and COVID-19

PHR Medical Director Dr. Michele Heisler moderates a discussion on COVID-19 and homelessness featuring Dr. Kelly Doran, Dr. Margot Kushel, and Pascale Leone. They discussed the particular challenges facing those who are homeless, and the programs and policies that are necessary to address these challenges now and going forward.

Reopening: Balancing Public Health, Safety, Human Rights, and the Economy

PHR Advisory Council member and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Professor Dr. Jennifer Leaning moderates a discussion on reopening while balancing health and human rights amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel features Dr. Ashish Jha and Dr. Martin McKee who discussed how governments and societies in the United States, the United Kingdom, and across the globe can best balance public health and safety imperatives with economic interests and civil liberties.

COVID-19 Racial Disparities

PHR Board Vice-Chair Deborah Ascheim, MD, MPH, moderates a discussion on racial disparities and COVID-19 featuring Dr. Derek Griffith, Dr. Carol Horowitz, and Dr. Monica Peek. Panelists address inequities impacting racial and ethnic minorities and rural populations in the United States, how those disparities place these populations at greater risk, and how health professionals and communities can work together to help eliminate health disparities.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Elderly Populations

On August 12, 2020, PHR hosted a conversation on the grave impacts of COVID-19 on elderly populations, covering missed opportunities in prevention and treatment, models for success, and next steps needed to reduce risk and protect basic human rights as the pandemic rages on.

More Webinars

On Thursday, September 10, 2020, PHR held a conversation about the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on K-12 education as school districts across the United States consider how best to educate children while prioritizing the health, safety, and well-being of students, teachers, and their families. Our moderator was Ranit Mishori, MD, MHS, senior medical advisor at PHR.
On Wednesday, August 19, at 12:00 p.m. EDT, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) hosted a conversation on the prevention of mass atrocities during the pandemic, to coincide with the August 25 anniversary of attacks by Myanmar security forces on Rohingya Muslim residents in northern Rakhine state, driving hundreds of thousands to live as refugees in neighboring Bangladesh. Our moderator was PHR board member Ambassador Stephen Rapp, JD, Sonia and Harry Blumenthal Distinguished Fellow for the Prevention of Genocide at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide.
On June 11, 2020, PHR Senior Medical Advisor Dr. Ranit Mishori moderated a discussion on empowering health professionals as human rights advocates. The panel featured Drs. Alejandro Moreno, Michelle Munyikwa, Rachel Pearson, and Sural Shah, who discussed why and how health professionals advocate for human rights, and how they can balance activism with other obligations.
PHR Director of Programs Karen Naimer moderates a discussion on COVID-19 and gender-based violence featuring Wangechi Wachira and Drs. Claudia Garcia-Moreno and Lori Heise. The conversation addresses how the pandemic has exacerbated the crisis of sexual and gender-based violence and intimate partner violence on a global scale, how existing response programs may be adapted to protect survivors amid restrictions on movement during the pandemic, and possible solutions and policies to protect survivors and prevent and/or reduce violence in the long-term.
On August 6, PHR hosted a conversation on health conditions in these camps, the legal context forcing people to remain in these dangerous situations, impacts on surrounding communities, and policy recommendations that could save lives. The conversation was moderated by Vidya Kumar Ramanathan MD, MPH.
On July 30, 2020 Dr. Paul Speigel moderated a discussion on the compounding impacts of COVID-19 on conflict-affected populations in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. The panel featured Radhya al-Mutawakel, Hala Al Saraf, and Dr. Zaher Sahloul.
On June 18, 2020, PHR Medical Expert Dr. Rohini Haar moderated a discussion on how the Black community, hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, is the same community most affected by racial injustice and the medical ramifications that this reality creates. The panel featured Mustafa Abdullah and Drs. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Alden Landry, and Teresa Y. Smith, who discussed racial injustice and the dangerous misuse of crowd-control weapons by police.
On July 16, 2020 PHR Advisory Council Member Patricia Sellers moderated a discussion on envisioning a more equitable future for health. The panel featured Dr. John Ayanian, Dr. Giselle Corbie-Smith, and Dr. Roshmi Goswani.
On July 10, 2020 PHR Board Member Dr. Gail Saltz moderated a discussion on the mental health impacts of COVID-19 on at-risk populations. The panel featured Dr. Monica Hooper, Dr. William Lopez, and Dr. Kerry Sulkowicz.
PHR Senior Medical Advisor Dr. Ranit Mishori moderates a discussion on COVID-19 and detention center/prison populations featuring Dr. Scott Allen, Eunice Cho, and Gerald Staberock. The conversation addresses the U.S. and international response to the danger of contagion in these densely populated environments, questions concerning access to care for inmates and staff, and how judgments being made today will shape the landscape of legal precedent going forward.
On July 24, 2020 PHR Advisory Council Member Dr. Chris Beyrer moderated a discussion on the compounding impacts of COVID-19 on Native Americans. The panel featured Dr. Shaquita Bell, Abigail Echo-Hawk, and Dr. Spero Manson.
On June 26, 2020, PHR medical expert Dr. Katherine Peeler moderated a discussion on the unique impacts of COVID-19 on children, including schooling, inequities, and vaccines. The panel featured Sabreen Akhter, Laura Alderman, Dr. Jyotsna Bhattacharya, and Dr. Kimberly Montez.
On September 17, 2020, PHR held a discussion on risks to meatpacking plant workers due to COVID-19. The discussion was moderated by Anna Werner, CBS News, and featured speakers Axel Fuenter, David Muraskin, and Melissa Perry.
PHR Senior Medical Advisor Dr. Ranit Mishori speaks with Dr. Joshua Lerner, an attending emergency department physician at the University of Massachusetts Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital, in an exclusive briefing about working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
PHR board member Donna Shelley, MD, MPH moderates a discussion on the medical ethics of COVID-19 featuring Dr. Diane Meier, Registered Nurse Eileen Weber, and Dr. Matthew Wynia. The panel addresses the ethics of resource allocation in public health emergencies, the responsibility of providing care in the face of scarcity, and the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic is changing how we deliver health services.
PHR founding member Dr. Robert Lawrence moderates a discussion on COVID-19 and food insecurity featuring Drs. Kofi Essel and Hilary Seligman. The discussion examines the roots of food insecurity in the United States and how COVID-19 has worsened an already dangerous situation for communities most at risk.
Psychiatrists and PHR board members Drs. Gail Saltz and Kerry Sulkowicz hold a discussion on the mental health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. This discussion focuses on tips for self-care as we adapt to the new norms of physical distancing, working from home, and as some of us face anxieties related to the uncertainty of the pandemic.
In March 2020, PHR medical director Dr. Michele Heisler held a Q&A with science writer and founder of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Health Program Laurie Garrett. The discussion addresses how governments and health professionals can fight the coronavirus while preserving human rights.

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