A prescription to modernize public health

side by side of a man and a book cover
Dr. Sandro Galea believes the pandemic revealed the best and worst of public health. He offers a diagnosis and a remedy in his new book, "Within Reason: A Liberal Public Health for an Illiberal Time."
Courtesy photos

In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic was public health’s finest hour. Millions of lives were saved, thanks to isolation measures. Vaccines were developed in record time. Systems were developed for contract tracing and testing. But it was also an apocalyptic moment for a system under strain.

As a result, trust in doctors and scientists has plummeted. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that Americans who say they have a great deal of confidence in scientists dropped from 39 percent in 2020 to 23 percent in 2023. And that decline happened across party lines.

What went wrong? How did public health officials alienate a populace they aimed to protect? Can an eroded sense of trust be restored?

Dr. Sandro Galea, epidemiologist and dean at the Boston University School of Public Health, seeks to some of those questions in his new book "Within Reason: A Liberal Public Health for an Illiberal Time."

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Galea joined host Kerri Miller on this week’s Big Books and Bold Ideas to share his post-pandemic diagnosis and offer remedies for how public health can transcend absolutism and intolerance in order to promote well-being for all.


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