Infectious Diseases Expert Dr. James Shepherd Offers Global Perspective

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Dr. Shepherd has worked in key areas like Botswana to address infectious diseases. He shares with listeners

  • How HIV and TB are still tremendous problems in many parts of the world,
  • Why the covid-19 shutdown has frozen many global treatment centers for infectious diseases like HIV and tuberculosis, and
  • How tuberculosis stands as the top infectious disease killer in the world.

Dr. James Shepherd is an infectious disease physician at Yale, New Haven hospital. For the past 20 years, he has advised and worked in TB and HIV global treatment programs. For example, he worked in Nigeria to roll out HIV treatment programs through the US-funded President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. He also ran the CDC's TB and HIV research program in Botswana to address HIV symptoms and curtail TB spread, which has one of the most severe TB and HIV co-epidemics in the world, and worked with the CDC WHO contingent in India, advising on their national TB program.

He describes his work with governments and health issues in smaller countries, which have a lot more challenges. He comments that one has to get creative, adapt, and work around issues and prioritize because there isn't the luxury of picking and choosing. He adds that there's a lot of pragmatism: these parts of the world are limited by funds so they have to make very hard choices for their people.

He also tells listeners about the covid-19 shutdown's effects on some of these programs, how the lack of PPE, resources, and the "cold chain" supply of vaccines and medicines are no longer reaching places like Botswana. He adds how they handled the covid-19 precautions very well from the start and have very limited cases, but are suffering from this lack of other needs met. Therefore, Dr. Shepherd expresses his concern for the near future of TB and HIV symptoms relief, prevention, and treatments as well as the lack of vaccines like measles.

For more information on infectious diseases from a global perspective, he suggests seeing web pages from philanthropic organizations like the global health section of the Gates Foundation and the UK's Wellcome Foundation.

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