Columbia Magazine interviewed Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA, ICAP’s global director, as part of its Spring/Summer 2020 cover story, “What We Have Learned From the Pandemic (So Far).” The interview was published on the Columbia Magazine website on May 4.
ICAP has identified lessons from HIV and Ebola that could streamline governments’ response to COVID-19.
“First,” says El-Sadr, “governments must gain the trust of their populations. They must be transparent and communicate frequently in order to prevent rumors and conspiracy theories.” Misinformation plagued the response to HIV and Ebola, leading many people to dismiss the threats or see them as government plots. And fears of being stigmatized prevented the sick from getting help. “You must mobilize opinion leaders to assuage these anxieties. We learned how to do that effectively for HIV, and we will now have to apply those lessons to a much more transmissible virus.”