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Public health leadership through times of crises

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A University of Bath Institute for Policy Research (IPR) online lecture

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Major incidents come in many forms. There are natural disasters - those beyond human control - including catastrophic extreme weather events. Arguably, these are not always ‘natural’, often caused by pollution and human interference in the natural balance of things. Then there are those as a result of disease - HIV, Ebola, Influenza, and nothing more topical in living history than COVID-19.

Any one of these topics would offer rich information for sharing. But then there are the disasters that are thrust upon us. Here we could turn to the lives lost crossing oceans in search of better lives, human trafficking, terrorism and the disregard for life. The principles of disaster risk reduction apply to all of these, the principles of which will be drawn on for this session.

But the focus will be on the use of a nerve agent in a rural town in England. That of the case of the Salisbury poisonings in 2018. Here we will look at the response and the importance of looking beyond buildings and economic recovery and consider the impact on people.

Speaker biographies

Tracy Daszkiewicz

With over 25 years’ experience working across health and social care, Tracy Daszkiewicz started her career working for a specialist HIV charity where, as well as working with her clients, she also worked on complex immigration issues and developed a range of programmes to challenge the myths and stigma around HIV during the 90s.

Tracy then spent many years working to improve outcomes for children and young people, both in the Midlands and the Berkshire areas; working to reduce risks to young people and tackle inequalities, working closely with young people who were being exploited, on the edge of crime or experiencing abuse. From here, Tracy lobbied for changes to the way teenage parents accessed education and established funding for childcare.

Tracy was also an active member of many groups and movements to bring equality for LGBTQ+ communities. Much of Tracy’s career has been focused on inclusivity for groups who don’t experience equality of access to health, social care and other services.

Tracy has been based in Wiltshire Public Health since 2008 where she was the lead for sexual and contraceptive health for five years, before gaining registration onto the UKPHR, where she then took up a post as Consultant in Public Health. Tracy has been the Director of Public Health in Wiltshire since 2017, and in 2018 became part of the team that led the response and recovery following the Nerve Agent attacks in Salisbury. In 2020 she was part of the local senior team response to COVID-19. Taking up a new role in 2020, Tracy now works with Public Health England leading on a broad public health agenda and taking forward recovery across the system for COVID-19.

From her involvement in a range of significant incidents throughout her career - HIV, pandemic flu, Novichock and more recently COVID-19 - Tracy has a strong focus on recovery and a keen interest in emergency planning, and is a member of the Emergency Planning Society. In her spare time, she is [pretending to be] working on her PHD researching the importance of the Humanitarian aspects of recovery following major and critical incidents.

Professor Harry Rutter

Harry Rutter is Professor of Global Public Health in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences at the University of Bath. He was recently appointed to the UK Government Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

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