Talking all things Ebola with Laurie Garrett

A burial team in protective gear bury the body of a woman suspected to have died from Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia.
Laurie Garrett

Laurie Garrett

For the Humanosphere podcast, Tom Paulson talks with Laurie Garrett about Ebola. Because, heck, who isn’t talking about Ebola these days? Garrett is senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York City. Tom’s known for Garrett for decades, and rather uncharacteristically enthusiastic for his nordic bent, praises her as “one of the best journalists to ever cover what we now call global health.”

Garrett is the only journalist to have won all three of the Big “Ps” of journalism: The Pulitzer, Peabody and the Polk. She is the best-selling author of The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance and Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health. Garrett is today widely recognized as an expert on public health matters and so we’re going to focus on what seems to be the only global health story of the moment: Ebola. Garrett was one of the first to try to sound the alarm that this outbreak was going to be different than the others that were contained and burned themselves out fairly quickly. This Ebola outbreak is unprecedented in size and scope. Garrett was among those warning early days that this outbreak deserved a massive and rapid response from the international community.

Few heeded the warnings and so today we have an Ebola outbreak like nothing ever seen before.

As usual, before we launch into the conversation with our featured guest, Tom and I discuss some of the other (non-Ebola) news items of interest. Tom talks about an interesting program launched 10 years ago by the Gates Foundation called Grand Challenges aimed at funding far-fetched and wacky scientific ideas for improving health and reducing poverty. The initiative hasn’t hit any home runs yet, Tom says, but we talk about a few projects that are making progress.

We also note Tom Murphy’s report on the marriage of a 12-year-old girl to some old pervert. No, this is not Afghanistan but Norway we’re talking about. And it wasn’t a real marriage. But the slick parody celebration of this fake nuptial certainly drew some attention to the big problem of child marriage worldwide.

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About Author

Gabe Spitzer

Gabriel Spitzer covers health and science at KPLU, after a year covering youth and education. He joined KPLU after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago.

  • Xenobio

    Laurie Garrett is a much better and more responsible writer than Richard Preston. The problem is that only people with intellectual pretensions in the first place are going to read a huge fat hardback book with a “boring” cover. The challenge is how to repackage this information in a way that’s popular and easy to read for the average Jane/Joe, without going to Preston-level hype and CNN hysteria.

    (When it comes to public health messaging I don’t believe in saying stupid people can go F themselves because that’s missing the point. It should be about achieving outcomes not intellectual snobbery. If it takes comic strips, TV dramas, and what David Quammen calls “lurid book jacket syndrome”…so be it)