Since 2004, Laurie Garrett has been a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Garrett is the only writer ever to have been awarded all three of the Big "Ps" of journalism: the Peabody, the Polk, and the Pulitzer. Her expertise includes global health systems, chronic and infectious diseases, and bioterrorism.
Garrett is the best-selling author of The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance; Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health; I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks; and the e-book EBOLA: Story of an Outbreak. Over the years, she has also contributed chapters to numerous books, including: AIDS in the World; Disease in Evolution: Global Changes and Emergence of Infectious Diseases; Controversies in Globalization; Practicing Sustainability; How Did This Happen: Terrorism and the New War; Beyond Humanitarianism: What You Need to Know About Africa and Why It Matters; Health and Development; and most recently To Save Humanity: What Matters Most for a Healthy Future.
A native of Los Angeles, Garrett graduated with honors in biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She attended graduate school in the department of bacteriology and immunology at University of California, Berkeley, and did laboratory research at Stanford University with Leonard Herzenberg. During her PhD studies, she started reporting on science news at radio station KPFA, winning the 1977 George Foster Peabody Award. She worked briefly in the California Department of Food and Agriculture, assessing the human health impacts of pesticide use. Garrett then went overseas, living and working in southern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, freelance reporting for Pacifica Radio, Pacific News Service, BBC Radio, Reuters, Associated Press, and others. In 1980, she joined National Public Radio, working as the network’s science correspondent. During her NPR years, Garrett received outstanding achievement awards from the National Press Club, San Francisco Media Alliance and World Hunger Alliance.
In 1988, Garrett left NPR to join the science and foreign desks of Newsday. Her Newsday work earned numerous awards, including the Award of Excellence from the National Association of Black Journalists (1989); Deadline Club of New York: Best Beat Reporter (1993); First Place from the Society of Silurians (1994); Bob Considine Award of the Overseas Press Club of America (1995); and George C. Polk Award (1997, 2000). Garrett was three times a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism, and received the Pulitzer in 1996 for her coverage of the 1995 Ebola epidemic in Kikwit, Zaire. She has also written for many publications, including Foreign Affairs, Esquire, Vanity Fair, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and Current Issues in Public Health. She has appeared frequently on national television programs, including ABC's Nightline, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, The Charlie Rose Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dateline, The International Hour (CNN), and Talkback (CNN). Among her most recent awards for her global health work executed while at the Council on Foreign Relations are the 2014 NYU School of Medicine “Outstanding Contributions to Global Health,” and the 2015 Internationalism Award from the American Women for International Understanding.
Garrett has been awarded four honorary PhDs from Wesleyan University (Illinois), the University of Massachusetts (Lowell), Georgetown University, and the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine.
The Human Microbiome and the Health of Individuals and Their Environments
The last decade has witnessed a shift in scientific perspective, driven by biologists' newfound ability to rapidly sequence the genetic blueprints of ecologies ranging from the human gut to Arctic permafrost. A global scale change to microbiomes, which are the aggregate of microorganisms such as bacteria, that inhabit the human body and all other environments, is underway, with deleterious effects on the world in which we live. Although the urgency of this situation is gravely understood by microbiologists, it is little known or understood by the general public or political leaders. From a foreign policy point of view, my interest is in considering how changes to microbiomes may serve as "canaries in the coal mine" for climate change impact, and how essential planetary functions may be altered by substantial microbiome damage. Are such transnational impacts subject to treaties, regulation, or global action? Can recognition of microbial impact provide a new political dimension to the global climate debate, and urgency for action given recognition that there are links to human health? My work on these issues will result in a book. I also convene the Human Microbiome and the Health of Individuals and Their Environments Roundtable Series to discuss these questions.
The current Ebola epidemic, which began in March 2014 in Guinea, has been described as spiraling out of control by the World Health Organization, and is expected to persist well into 2015. The strain of virus claiming lives today is the same one that first emerged in 1976, in the Congo rainforest, an outbreak about which I wrote in my book, The Coming Plague. I was also awarded a Pulitzer Prize in journalism in 1996 for my coverage of the Ebola epidemic in Kikwit, Zaire—which was also chronicled in my book Betrayal of Trust—and have been providing analysis and insight into the current outbreak, primarily through op-eds and magazine articles, and also through media appearances.
Addressing the Last Mile Issues of Universal Health Coverage
The United Nations (UN) is currently creating a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will build upon the Millennium Development Goals that is to expire at the end of 2015. Among the seventeen SDGs, Goal Three focuses on health: “Ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” While advocates are jockeying for the inclusion of a number of specific health targets in SDG Goal Three, achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) leads the list of potential sub-goals. Indeed, because progress toward UHC seeks to ensure affordable and quality healthcare for everyone, it is considered central to reaching the SDG goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030. In order for the negotiations to move forward in a constructive and efficient manner, it is imperative that the involved parties gain a clear understanding of the critical issues surrounding the UHC concept. Co-directed by me and my colleague Yanzhong Huang, the Project on Addressing the Last Mile Issues of Universal Health Coverage will hold three roundtable meetings and produce several briefing papers to address pertinent issues related to UHC as they are brought up in UN meetings. Two roundtable meetings have been held in New York, with the first focusing on the cost of providing UHC and the second on the role of human resources in implementing UHC.
This project is made possible through the support of the Rockefeller Foundation.
Two new revolutions in biology—gain-of-function research and synthetic biology—are forcing policymakers to rethink current national and international surveillance and regulatory systems, and any resolution will require international buy-in since the threat entails all living organisms.
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Medicines are increasingly the product of complex supply chains, introducing vulnerabilities to their reliability and safety. CFR Senior Fellow Laurie Garrett lays out how G8 and G20 nations can help to remedy the drug safety crisis.
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Laurie Garrett discusses the current state of global health programs.
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The White House's proposed budget for FY2012 tries to balance spending cuts with investment to boost competitiveness. CFR experts examine how well it handles deficit reduction, defense, foreign aid, and spurring innovation.
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Four CFR fellows weigh in on the effectiveness of the State Department's Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review recommendations.
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President Obama's first National Security Strategy departs from Bush administration doctrine by redefining the war against terror groups and embracing multilateralism, and may expect too much from global partners, say CFR experts in an analytical roundup.
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Efforts to vaccinate Pakistani children are in peril after the CIA's vaccine ploy to help capture Osama bin Laden, placing the entire region at risk of outbreaks, says CFR's Laurie Garrett.
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The Supreme Court's ruling on the U.S. health-care law helps bring domestic and foreign policies on health-care access and spending priorities into closer alignment, says CFR's Laurie Garrett.
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This interactive map visually plots global outbreaks of measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio, rubella, and other diseases that are easily preventable by inexpensive and effective vaccines. The Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations has been tracking news reports on these outbreaks since the fall of 2008. This project aims to promote awareness of a global health problem that is easily preventable.
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West Africa's Ebola outbreak is outpacing current efforts to contain and combat it, says CFR's Laurie Garrett.
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The International AIDS Conference shows that challenges, such as funding and maintaining political will, likely means no short-term end to the epidemic, says CFR's Laurie Garrett.
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Famine in the Horn of Africa underscores the problems of an international foreign aid community struggling to keep up with its commitments at a time of a falling dollar and rising food prices, says CFR's Laurie Garrett.
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With the UN meeting on AIDS funding this week, CFR's Laurie Garrett says the slow response to the AIDS epidemic was the single biggest failure in public health and argues the need to double funding for new treatments to stop the spread of the disease.
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With food prices at historic levels, unrest is mounting around the world, particularly in import-dependent regions such as the Middle East. CFR's Laurie Garrett says to meet demand going forward, countries will need to enhance food production and efficiencies.
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Haiti's cholera outbreak is exacerbated by unclean water and a subpar sanitation system, and lagging infrastructure repairs highlight the inadequate global response to the country's earthquake in January, says CFR's Laurie Garrett.
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CFR Senior Fellow Laurie Garrett says President Barack Obama's agriculture development and food security initiative holds promise, but it must focus on how to assist women, who are responsible for the majority of agricultural work in Africa.
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CFR's Laurie Garrett says if Myanmar's regime continues to restrict access to aid workers, the carnage from the cyclone will exceed that of the tsunami.
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On the annual occasion of World AIDS day, CFR health expert Laurie Garrett points to problems in tracking and addressing the disease.
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CFR fellow Laurie Garrett discusses Botswana’s infant formula policy debacle and its implications for other innovative efforts for fighting HIV/AIDS.
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CFR experts offer their analysis of President George W. Bush's final State of the Union address.
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