TEDx | To Survive the Pandemic, Look to the Teachers


Almost a year into COVID-19, there‚Äôs a general understanding that each of us knows what we need to do to limit the virus’s spread. Public health guidance asks that we socially distance, use personal protective equipment, wash our hands frequently with soap and clean water, get tested, quarantine, and self-isolate when we have been exposed. In an eloquent talk, public health specialist Anatole Manzi argues that while these might be reasonable requests for people in wealthy societies, the requests are out of step with what is possible in most parts of Africa’s real-life conditions. Many people on the continent live in multigenerational households, often in crowded settings. They have little or no money to buy soap. They almost certainly do not have access to PPE, and the nearest doctor or nurse is beyond quick and easy reach. What we need, Anatole proposes, is an equity-based response that ensures that everyone knows how to protect themselves and their families and that doing so is within their means. With sixty-five percent of Africans under the age of thirty-five, the continent has the largest youth base, relative to others. Many of these youth are in school. Again, unlike in wealthy societies, many of these schools have no nurse or counselor. What they do have, though, is teachers. Bringing teachers into the public health system as part of an extended community workforce could give us the superpowers we need to overcome COVID-19 and survive the next pandemic. Anatole is deputy chief medical officer at Partners in Health. In his role, he liaises with countries which are supported with Partners in Health to engineering innovative strategies to strengthen health systems. He is also the founder of Move Up Global, a non-profit dedicated to better health and education in remote and resource-strained communities. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx