Initiative takes a deep dive into public health

a participant listens to a presentation

ALI fellows listen on at the 2019 Public Health Deep Dive./Russ Campbell

3 min read

Improving future health in the broadest sense — an individual’s complete physical, mental, and social well-being — requires assets and partners outside of the health care sector. That was the central theme of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative’s (ALI) 2019 Public Health Deep Dive.

ALI’s Deep Dive sessions highlight one major global or community challenge where ALI Fellows might fill a gap. Deep Dives include readings, outside experts, often faculty from relevant Harvard programs, and a focus on problem solving and practical applications of knowledge.

The 2019 Public Health Deep Dive featured presentations and discussions on global health frameworks with examples from low and middle-income countries, alongside an introduction to the economics and politics of health care reform in the United States. Although the U.S. is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, it is far from the healthiest and its challenges provided a useful lens through which to view health system design challenges more broadly.

During the two-day event, ALI Fellows conversed with faculty from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and leaders from the community and health care industry, about the complex challenges associated with improving health systems, and ultimately health, both in the U.S. and globally.

The Deep Dive featured a panel discussion, dynamic speakers, and a design workshop. Presentations began with basic knowledge on health systems and moved towards discussion of current domestic and global health priorities, including the nutritional consequences of climate change, addiction, and mental health. The cohort came together in the middle of the second day to design a solution to a specific health challenge, and the Deep Dive concluded with an intimate conversation with Jim O’Connell, founder and president of Boston Health Care for the Homeless.

Bringing together the content of the Deep Dive, ALI Faculty Chair Meredith Rosenthal helped fellows synthesize their thinking around the complex issues in public health.

Ultimately, ALI Fellows seemed to agree that some degree of collaboration was necessary to address these issues. Change could happen only by working with communities to identify problems and potential solutions and by gathering stakeholders across sectors to implement those solutions.

Rosenthal, the C. Boyden Gray Professor of Health Economics and Policy at the Harvard Chan School, co-chaired the 2019 Public Health Deep Dive with Howard Koh, member of the ALI Faculty Executive Committee and professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health.