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Course Duration

Content for this course will be posted every Thursday for four weeks. However, you have nine weeks to complete the course.

December 3rd, 2015 - February 4th, 2016

Course Description

In this four week course, an international panel of experts will discuss the most recent Ebola pandemic, including the local, national and international responses, as well as explore the lessons learned for preventing future possible pandemics. The first week will cover the history of the Ebola virus and epidemics, with a discussion of how this epidemic compares to others. The second week focuses on the local response to the epidemic in the three most affected nations: Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. It will explore what the epidemic looked like from the perspective of those dealing with it directly, including the decisions faced by the different individuals and organizations providing care. The third week evaluates the international response. It explores the preexisting mechanisms designed to protect against an epidemic of this magnitude and the ways in which they failed.  During the fourth week, the course focuses on the broader lessons learned and attempts to answer the critical question: How can we prevent the next epidemic?

Learning Objectives

In this course we will explore the different events that led to the most recent Ebola outbreak and what must be done in order to prevent future outbreaks. You will learn:

The history of the Ebola virus and why the most recent outbreak was so deadly.

The local response, including the health care limitations, in the regions most affected by Ebola. 

The role of the WHO and the IHR in dealing with international pandemics.

What reforms are necessary in order to prevent the next pandemic.


To earn a certificate, you must have earned a score of 80%  by February 4, 2016.

Question Sets

Each week, interviews will be followed by a short set of questions.  Each week contributes equally to your final score. You can see your score by clicking on the Progress tab at the top of the page.


There will be core readings each week, supplemented by a series of optional readings. These readings are listed under the readings tab. 

Discussion Questions

Discussion questions are designed to incite participant discussion and in depth exploration of course content. These questions will be monitored by course staff, but will not be visible on your progress page.

The discussion forum is a unique opportunity to engage with learners from all over the world. Our community is diverse in experience, knowledge, language, and culture. This provides us with an incredible resource of viewpoints, and we want to make sure the discussions are meaningful and fun! Please consider the following when you post:


  • Have faith that course participants are acting with best intentions. We’re all here to learn!
  • Posts should be written in your own words. If you include a quote or reference, when possible also provide a citation (book, URL, etc).
  • Participate! You will get out of the discussions what you put into them.
  • Before posting, search the Discussion for similar questions or comments. You can always respond and/or click on the green plus button to upvote a post.
  • If you disagree with a post, respond using evidence and reasoning instead of personal attacks.
  • Before posting a comment, consider: would you say it to someone’s face? If no, we encourage that you revise it. 
  • Use correct grammar and spell-check your posts. Also, please do not use ALL CAPS.
  • Avoid slang and abbreviations, as these vary across cultures.


  • Please limit your posts/responses to 200 words or less (by request of EdX).
  • Use the search and engagement tools (upvote, follow for updates, flag for misuse) on the Discussion Home to find and contribute to the conversations.
  • A blue star on a post means a member of the course staff has endorsed it.
  • If you see an inappropriate post, flag it instead of adding your own commentary.
  • Any technical questions or concerns should be posted in the Logistics Questions Discussion.

Commitment & Live Response

Each weekly session is outlined within your courseware tab. Each session will require no more than 4 hours of seat time. We expect participation on the discussion boards between students, as well as with the course staff.

Teaching Team


Ashish Jha, MD MPH
K. T. Li Professor of International Health
Director, Harvard Global Health Institute
Department of Health Policy and Management

Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH is a Professor of Health Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, a practicing Internal Medicine physician at the VA Boston Healthcare System and the Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. His work has focused on four primary areas: public reporting, pay for performance, health information technology, and leadership, and the roles they play in affecting the delivery of high quality care. With a strong body of research on the US system, he also founded the Harvard Initiative on Global Health Quality (HIGHQ), played a key role in the World Health Organization’s working group on patient safety research, is developing an International Health Information and Communication Technology benchmarking system with the OECD, and partners with a handful of governments to strengthen inpatient quality of care in public hospitals.

Teaching Fellows:                                          

Liana Rosenkrantz Woskie, MSc

April Opoliner, MPH DSc

Alex Nones, PhD 

Ty Aderhold








Peter Piot

History of Ebola, Discovery


Paul Farmer

Context as Physician, Anthropologist & Friend


Allan Brandt

Comparative Epidemic Responses

Local Response


Raj Panjabi

Liberian History & Last Mile Health: A Community Based Model


Nahid Bhadelia

Sierra Leone, Humanitarian Response & Complexities of Caregiving in Crisis


Odell Kumeh

Local Liberian Response


Elsie Karmbor-Ballah

Local Liberian Response


Wilmot Smith

Local Liberian Response

Global Response


Peter Piot

Governance Challenges, HIV & Global Health


Devi Sridhar

Local Capabilities & International Response


Larry Gostin

IHR 1: WHO & International Health Regulations (IHR)


David Fidler

IHR 2: Lessons from SARS & GHA


Muhammad Pate

Nigerian Regional Response, What Worked?


Chelsea Clinton

Government Accompaniment, CHAI & Ebola

Looking Forward


Suerie Moon

LSHTM/Harvard Recommendations


Paul Farmer

What Can We Do Better Next Time?


Allan Brandt

Lessons from HIV & Ebola, Moving Forward

Panelists Biographies (by week of first appearance)

Week 1

Peter Piot, MD, PhD
Director, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Peter Piot received his medical degree from the University of Ghent and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Antwerp. In 1976, he co-discovered the Ebola virus in Zaire and helped lead the efforts to contain the first-ever recorded Ebola epidemic that same year.  He has led research on HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and women's health, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. From 1991 to 1994, Dr. Piot served as President of the International AIDS Society. In 1992, he became Assistant Director of the World Health Organization's Global Programme on HIV/AIDS and, in 1994, was appointed Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and Assistant-Secretary-General of the United Nations. From 2009-2010, he served as Director of the Institute for Global Health at Imperial College London and in 2010 became the Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.  He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London, UK, and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, UK. 

Paul Farmer, PhD, MD
Kolokotrones University Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine

Paul Farmer received his BA from Duke University and his MD and PhD in medical anthropology from Harvard University. He currently serves as Kolokotrones University Professor and Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.  He has written extensively on health, human rights, and the consequences of social inequality. Dr. Farmer is also chief strategist and co-founder of Partners In Health, a worldwide health organization which strives to bring good medical care to the poor by establishing long-term partnerships with local sister organizations.  Dr. Farmer serves as U.N. Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Community-based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti. In 2010, he was named a University Professor, the highest honor that Harvard University can bestow on one of its faculty members.

Allan Brandt, PhD
Amalie Moses Kass Professor of the History of Medicine

Allan M. Brandt is the Amalie Moses Kass Professor of the History of Medicine at Harvard Medical School where he directs the Program in the History of Medicine and the Division of Medical Ethics. Prof. Brandt’s work focuses on social and ethical aspects of health, disease, and medical practices in the twentieth century United States. He is the author of The Cigarette Century (2007) and No Magic Bullet: A Social History of Venereal Disease in the United States since 1880 (1987), as well as the editor of Morality and Health (1997). He has written on the social history of epidemic disease, the history of public health and health policy, and the history of human subject research among other topics. In 1998, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He was named a Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor by the Flight Attendants Medical Research Institute in 2003.

Week 2:

Raj Panjabi, MD, MPH
CEO, Last Mile Health
Associate Physician, Harvard Medical School

A native of Liberia, Raj Panjabi received his medical and public health training at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Panjabi is Co-Founder and CEO of Last Mile Health, a Liberia and Boston-based non-profit organization that trains and employs village health workers to perform as community health professionals in remote villages. He is also Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Associate Physician in the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In 2015, Fortune Magazine named Dr. Panjabi one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. Dr. Panjabi is a Forbes 400 Philanthropy Fellow, a Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Social Entrepreneur, an Echoing Green Fellow and a Clinton Global Initiative Advisor. He is a recipient of the Outstanding Recent Alumni Award from Johns Hopkins, the Distinguished Young Alumni Award from the University of North Carolina, and the Global Citizen Movement Award.

Nahid Bhadelia, MD, MA
Assistant Professor, Boston University School of Medicine

Nahid Bhadelia received her medical training from Tufts University School of Medicine and is an infectious diseases physician, Assistant Professor at the Boston University School of Medicine and the Director of Infection Control and Medical Response at National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory (NEIDL) at Boston University (BU). Her specialization is in infection control issues related to emerging pathogens and highly communicable infectious diseases. Dr. Bhadelia also has a Master’s degree in International Affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She has served as a front line physician providing care to Ebola patients in Sierra Leone with World Health Organization. She is a Senior Policy and Technical Advisor to Partners in Health for their Ebola response program in Sierra Leone. 

Odell Kumeh, MD
County Health Officer, Maryland County 
Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Liberia

Odell Kumeh is a medical doctor who graduated from A. M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, University of Liberia. Upon graduation, she worked at the J. F. Kennedy Hospital, a tertiary hospital, Phebe Hospital, and the Redemption Hospital in Liberia.  Since 2008, Dr. Kumeh has worked for the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Liberia.  In 2009, she was named County Health Officer to Maryland County, giving her oversight responsibilities for all health activities in Maryland County.

Elsie Karmbor-Ballah, MD
County Health Officer, Grand Gedeh County
Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Liberia

Elsie G. Karmbor-Ballah is a general practitioner and a 2009 graduate of the A. M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, University of Liberia. She spent one year working as an intern at the J. F. Kennedy Medical Center, Liberia, and then gained 2 years of obstetrics experience at the C. B. Dunbar Maternity Hospital. She currently serves as the County Health Officer of Grand Gedeh County, one of Liberia’s rural, southeastern counties, where she leads efforts to deliver health services to a population of 144,872 locals as well as 15,000 Ivorian refugees.  Medical services are provided at all levels, including community clinics, health centers and hospitals. Dr. Karmbor-Ballah is also attached to the obstetrics ward of the only country hospital, Martha Tubman Hospital, which is committed to improving maternal and neonatal health services.  

Wilmot Smith, MD
Chief Health Officer, Rivercess County 
Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Liberia

A native of Liberia, Wilmot L. Smith studied medicine at the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, University of Liberia. After his graduation and subsequent training in Emergency Surgical and Obstetric care, Dr. Smith worked as a physician at the St. Francis Hospital in Cestos City, Rivercess County.  Later, he was appointed County Health Officer for Rivercess County, which is located in rural, southeastern Liberia. Dr. Smith’s responsibilities include delivering quality essential health care services to the people of that county, performing emergency surgical and obstetric procedures at the county referral hospital, and supervising community health activities. 

Week 3:

Chelsea Clinton, PhD, MPH
Vice Chair, Clinton Foundation

Chelsea Clinton holds a BA from Stanford, an MPH from Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health and an MPhil and Doctorate in International Relations from Oxford University. As Vice Chair of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, Ms. Clinton supports the vision and programmatic efforts of the organization, which has convened businesses, governments, NGOs, and individuals to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for girls and women, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change. Ms. Clinton currently teaches at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She also serves on the boards of many organizations, including the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Africa Center, and the Weill Cornell Medical College.

David Fidler, JD, MPhil
James Louis Calamaras Professor of Law, Maurer School of Law, Indiana University

David Fidler holds a JD from Harvard Law School and a MPhil and a BCL from the University of Oxford. Prof. Fidler specializes in international law, with an emphasis on security issues. He is one of the world’s leading experts on cybersecurity law and policy, cyberspace and international law, international law and global health security, the rule of law in counterinsurgency and stability operations and biosecurity threats.  Professor Fidler is also an Adjunct Senior Fellow for Cybersecurity with the Council on Foreign Relations, an Associate Fellow with the Centre on Global Health Security at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), a Senior Fellow at the Indiana University Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, and a Fellow with the Pacific and Asia Society. He is on the Roster of Experts that advises the Director-General of the World Health Organization under the International Health Regulations (2005). He was a member of the Harvard University-London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Independent Panel on the Global Response to Ebola and currently is a member of the Georgetown University-Lancet Commission on Law and Global Health.

Larry Gostin, JD
Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University
Professor of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University

Lawrence Gostin received his BA from the State University of New York, Brockport, and his JD from Duke University. He is currently University Professor, Georgetown University's highest academic rank conferred by the University President. Prof. Gostin directs the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law and was the Founding O'Neill Chair in Global Health Law. He is Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University and Professor of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University. Prof. Gostin is also the Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Public Health Law & Human Rights. He served on the Director-General's Advisory Committee on Reforming the World Health Organization, as well as numerous WHO expert advisory committees on Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework, smallpox, and genomic sequencing data. Prof. Gostin also serves on two global commissions to report on the lessons learned from the 2015 West Africa Ebola epidemic: Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework and the Independent Panel on the Global Response to Ebola. He served as Secretary and a member of the governing Board of Directors of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health.  Prof. Gostin is an elected lifetime Member of the National Academy of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, a lifetime elected Member of the Council of Foreign Relations, and a Fellow of the Hastings Center.

Muhammad Pate, MD, MBA
Former Minister of State for Health, Nigeria
Visiting Scholar, Duke Global Health Institute

Muhammad Pate received his medical degree from the Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria, an MBA from Duke University, Master’s in Health System Management from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and is an American Board Certified MD in Internal Medicine.  He is currently a Visiting Scholar at Duke University's Global Health Institute, USA. Previously Dr. Pate served as the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency in Nigeria during the country’s polio epidemic crisis. He was later appointed Minister of State for Health (2011-13), where he led the coordination and implementation of Nigeria’s primary health care system, including efforts to expand vaccinations and access to essential health care services for women and children. Dr. Pate serves on the agenda committee of the World Economic Forum. 

Devi Sridhar, DPHIL, MPHIL
Professor & Chair of Global Public Health, The University of Edinburgh

Devi Sridhar holds a DPhil and MPhil from Oxford and a BS from the University of Miami.  She is currently Professor at the University of Edinburgh’s Medical School and holds the Chair in Global Public Health. Previously, she was Senior Research Fellow at the Blavatnik School of Government and a Fellow of Wolfson College and a University Lecturer in Global Health Politics in the Department of Public Health, Oxford. Prof. Sridhar has worked with a number of UN agencies, civil society organizations and Ministries of Health in emerging and developing countries. She serves on the Board of Save the Children UK and was a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Health Industry, Associate Fellow at the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security, Advisory Board Member of the Financial Flows Programme at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, and Visiting Faculty at the Public Health Foundation of India.

Suerie Moon, MPA, PHD
Study Director, Harvard Global Health Institute - London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Panel

Suerie Moon is Research Director and Co-Chair of the Forum on Global Governance for Health at the Harvard Global Health Institute. She is also a Lecturer in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health, where she teaches a course on global governance and health. She also co-directs the Project on Innovation and Access to Technologies for Sustainable Development, Sustainability Science Program, at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  Her work focuses on global governance, the political economy of global health (with a focus on innovation, access to medicines, intellectual property and equity), the evolution of international regimes, and innovative policies for addressing global problems.  Prior to coming to Harvard, she worked for the Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) international Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, where she focused on intellectual property policies, ensuring equitable pricing of medicines, and research and development into neglected diseases.  She has also consulted for a number of non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and intergovernmental organizations on global governance and access to medicines issues.