Conversations: May 22, 2020
On May 22, 2020, Dr. Sharuna Verghis, Senior Lecturer at the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Kuala Lumpur, and artist Xavier Cortada talked about how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted Malaysia. In exploring the approach undertaken by the Malaysian government and its citizens in fighting the pandemic, both noted the similarities and differences with the American response. Having experienced the SARS outbreak, Malaysians were better prepared to engage in social distancing and strategies to prevent the spread of COVIS-19. Verghis discussed the suffering endured by those who lacked resources during lockdown: In some areas, people had no food and went hungry for days. Fearing imprisonment, some marginalized populations (e.g., refugees) were pushed further into the shadows, risking further spread of disease. They concluded the conversation agreeing that inequities must be addressed through public policy and reform on order to better prepare for future pandemics.
About Sharuna Verghis
Dr. Sharuna Verghis is a public health researcher, educator, and advocate. She is a Senior Lecturer with the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University Malaysia, and the Co-Founder of Health Equity Initiatives (HEI), a not-for-profit, community-based organization of health professionals that runs an integrated mental health program for refugees and asylum seekers in Kuala Lumpur. Dr. Verghis is passionate about health and social justice. She has served on national, regional, and international research and intervention projects and has a keen interest in engaging on these projects from a multidisciplinary perspective. When she has time, she dabbles in mixed media and up-cycling, painting and distressing furniture.