Pandemic Perspectives: Dean Eurich

How is a School of Public Health epidemiologist and chronic disease management expert helping marginalized communities manage the impact of the global pandemic?


As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its seventh month, marginalized communities are facing greater challenges than most. With inequities linked to food security, housing, chronic diseases, mental health, and social isolation, the virus and its consequences pose a greater risk to these communities than others.

Dean Eurich, associate professor at the School of Public Health, has been collaborating with First Nations communities to understand their experiences, feelings, and circumstances related to public health advice regarding COVID-19. As an expert in the spread of diseases, health outcomes, and health services, he’ll be offering his expertise in the online panel discussion event “Pandemic Perspectives - What we’ve learned from COVID-19” on Sept 23. Eurich offers a preview of his approach in the Q&A below.

What has been your perspective on how you are approaching the COVID-19 pandemic?

I am a health professional and population health researcher who works with many marginalized populations. The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected marginalized communities, who are under-resourced or under-served. My perspective in approaching the pandemic has been to collaborate with these communities to determine what the impact has been from a public health perspective and help inform their health policies in response to COVID-19 for the future.

What is something from this pandemic that has surprised you?
COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on our society’s emotional and mental health that I did not fully appreciate at the time when all of the restrictions occurred. These impacts will be felt, unfortunately, well after the crisis of COVID-19 has passed I believe. Moreover, the pandemic has clearly highlighted the social and health inequities that still exist in Canada, particularly for marginalized populations such as First Nations in Canada.

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice at the start of the pandemic, what would it be?
I would work to ensure the importance of maintaining chronic disease management during the crisis as this has clearly been lost over the pandemic. Public health messaging has almost exclusively been directed at limiting COVID-19; yet, chronic diseases have not disappeared. I would work to ensure a more balanced message around the importance of also maintaining chronic disease care.

What’s one thing you want people to know moving forward, or for the next pandemic?
I am less concerned about the ‘next pandemic’ but believe there will be difficult days in the aftermath of the pandemic. Lost in much of the discussion around the pandemic is the tremendous impact the pandemic will have in the future on the basic social determinants of health and chronic disease management. Many patients are struggling with their current chronic disease management as they do not want to burden the health system at this point in time or they are fearful or simply unable to see or travel to healthcare professionals right now. I fear this lack of ongoing care will result in downstream health complications which will take several years to manifest.

What can people expect from you at the panel?
I will highlight some of the work I have been doing within First Nation communities around COVID-19 and hopefully, bring a different perspective on how the pandemic and public health response have impacted their communities as well as highlight the immense success these communities have had in the province on controlling the pandemic.

Pandemic Perspectives - What we learned from COVID-19
Wednesday, September 23 | 7 - 8:30pm (MDT)

Carole Estabrooks, Faculty of Nursing. '87 MNurs, '97 PhD
Dean Eurich, School of Public Health. '03 MSc, '07 PhD
Lynora Saxinger, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
Lorne Tyrrell, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. '64 BSc, '68 MD
Moderator: Lawrence Richer, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. '92 BSc(Hons), '96 MD, '09 MSc

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Pandemic Perspectives - What we learned from COVID-19
Wednesday, September 23 | 7 - 8:30pm (MDT)

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