Shoshanna Goldin, M.P.H. ’17 and president of the Yale Club of Switzerland, wants to make sure the world is ready for another pandemic.
Four years after graduating from the Yale School of Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management, Goldin is helping to address the spread of COVID-19 and influenza as a technical officer at the World Health Organization. She is currently developing tools to assess how prepared countries are to handle potential disease outbreaks.
During her time at YSPH, Goldin participated in an internship at the WHO, where she worked on antimicrobial resistance and influenza vaccinations. After graduation, Goldin reengaged with those WHO teams. At the WHO, Goldin created a behavior-change technical expert group focused on developing strategies that could be used to prevent the overuse of antibiotics. Later, she obtained a staff position on WHO’s influenza team.
“I've been working on making sure that we are more prepared for the next influenza pandemic,” Goldin said. “But a lot of the work that we had been doing over the last several years was directly applicable to the COVID-19 context.”
Once the pandemic hit, Goldin spent most of her time working on the WHO’s COVID-19 response.
Specifically, she worked on virtual courses to ensure that health workers participating in the “largest vaccine introduction in history” were trained effectively.
“You couldn't bring everyone into a classroom for the normal training sessions, we had to be really innovative and creative,” Goldin said. “We also needed to develop solutions that could work in communities with limited internet access.”
Goldin is currently working to define the characteristics that determine whether or not a country is prepared for a potential influenza outbreak.
“Looking back at the 2009 H1N1 experience, learning from the COVID-19 experience and other types of acute respiratory events, what are the key enablers or barriers to success in responding to these events?” Goldin said. “We are looking to see if countries have these response capacities already in place. Or what is needed to help them to build their capacities.”
We learn from every outbreak, Goldin said. The 2009 pandemic, for instance, was mild to moderate, she said, but it still “exposed a lot of needs at a global level.” This experience taught policymakers about the value of having a deployment plan for vaccines, which ended up being useful for the world’s COVID-19 response.
Similarly, the current pandemic is helping prepare the world for the next one, Goldin said. Nations and states are now more concerned about health-system readiness, such as whether their hospitals are adequately prepared to handle a rapid uptick in patients.
Reflecting back on her time at YSPH, Goldin said one of the most valuable things she learned was how to write.
“To write really succinctly and convey important messages to senior leadership is incredibly useful,” she said. “In the work that I'm doing now, I teach others how to write strong policy briefs.”
She also noted that as she continues with her work, it is important to make sure the entire process is evidence-based. That means dealing with numbers – another skill her experience at YSPH helped her practice.
“I think that the data analysis experience at YSPH is really useful,” she said. “To perform analyses on pandemic preparedness, we always come back to statistics.”