Harvey Fineberg Delivers Inaugural Lincoln C. Chen Lecture in Global Health

 Picture above: CMB President Barbara Stoll, CMB Trustee Harvey Fineberg, CMB President Emeritus Lincoln Chen, and University of Miami President Julio Frenk.

CMB Trustee Harvey Fineberg delivered the Inaugural Lincoln C. Chen Lecture in Global Health on November 4, 2022, to an audience of health professionals, educators, students, and others attending the International Conference on the Future of Health Professions Education on the University of Miami campus. Dr. Fineberg described Lincoln Chen – a colleague and friend of many decades – as an icon for global health whose career has been distinguished by his steadfast commitment to equity in health, and as a leader who found ways to help others do their best work.

In his remarks, Dr. Fineberg described the health profession as a lifelong calling, with responsibilities to promote, achieve, and maintain human health and to serve others with compassion and empathy. The goals of equity, fairness, and access are linked to the goals of education and health, he said, and define the ways in which health professionals serve as agents of social change. He urged the students in the audience to take ownership of their own education, to look beyond formal curricula for opportunities to learn, and to refine and sharpen their knowledge and skills so that they can provide better service to those in need.  

He also highlighted three separations that health professionals must address, as individuals and collectively, in order to remove structural impediments to better health for all.

  • The separation between individual health and population health, which reduces the perceived role of social determinants of health and creates gaps in information flow and coordination especially needed in a time of health crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The separation between education and medical care (as in separate ministries of health and education), which creates gaps in learning, research, and care, impedes inter-professional collaboration, and deters training and career paths for physician-scientists.
  • The separation between national interests and global needs, which become even more evident in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other universal threats that call for a global response, yet are bounded by national interests.

 To overcome these separations, health professionals will need to recognize and respond to three tensions:

  • Nations facing conflict or confrontation have to find side channels in which to continue dialogue. Science, health, and education can be constructive channels for collaboration even during times of tense political relations.
  • Rivalries among nations, as between China and the United States, tend to be characterized as competitive, but they leave room for finding areas of cooperation. By adopting a hybrid based on “coopetition,” countries can find ways to bridge differences and achieve mutually beneficial collaboration.
  • Striking the right balance between universal human rights and respecting cultural differences is a challenging process. For example, are differences in the ways men and women are treated in different societies a violation of rights or a matter of differing cultural mores and values? Such tensions between human rights and cultural values should not be ignored, but rather drive dialogue and problem solving.

Dr. Fineberg pointed to Lincoln Chen as someone who, through his vision and actions, has brought clarity to situations in which separations and tensions need to be recognized and resolved and has encouraged his colleagues to do the same.  Roger Glass, Director of the Fogarty International Center and Associate Director for International Research, echoed those sentiments in his introduction of Dr. Fineberg, describing Dr. Chen as someone who welcomed challenges and made learning in the field a priority throughout his career.

The CMB Board of Trustees established the Lincoln C. Chen Lecture in Global Health in December 2021 to honor Lincoln Chen upon his retirement as CMB president after 14 years of distinguished service.