Global Health Chronicles

Alexander Laskaris

David J. Sencer CDC Museum, Global Health Chronicles


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1:17 - Early life/Growing up cross-culturally

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Partial Transcript: Backing up, could you tell me when and where you were born?

Keywords: anthropology; Cold War; cross-cultural; culture; diplomacy; Greek Civil War; immigrants; immigration; interpretation; parents; translation; travel; US military; US Navy; violence; war; West Coast; youth

Subjects: United States. Navy

5:20 - Reflections on effecting change across cultures

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Partial Transcript: Last night we were having dinner with the Peace Corps volunteers, and they learned this at the village level.

Keywords: AFRICOM; immigration; migration; military intervention; refugees; regime change; T. Waldhauser

Subjects: Middle East; Peace Corps (U.S.); United States. Africa Command

8:37 - Education/The importance of moral leadership

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Partial Transcript: Did you go through all of secondary school in Greece?

Keywords: A. Fugard; Apartheid; campus activism; Central America; civil war; Cold War; high school; Latin America; moral leadership; N. Mandela; religion; South Africa; student protest; teaching; Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)

Subjects: Georgetown University. School of Foreign Service

14:05 - Entry into US Foreign Service/Liberia/Botswana, early 1990s

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Partial Transcript: So you were in South Africa from ’89 to ’90. What did you do after that?

Keywords: Apartheid; epidemic; foreign service; guinea; HIV/AIDS; K. Masire; Liberian Civil War; religion; risk communication; sexual transmission; stigma; stigmatization; Tswana; violence

Subjects: AIDS (Disease)--Africa; Botswana; Guinea; HIV (Viruses); Liberia; Peace Corps (U.S.); United States. Department of State; United States. Foreign Service

24:12 - Egypt/Washington/Angola, mid-late 1990s

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Partial Transcript: What happened after Botswana?

Keywords: AFRICOM; Cold War; ethnic conflict; J. Savimbi; peace; peace process; R. Nixon; Rwandan genocide; US military; violence; war; Y. Arafat; Y. Rabin

Subjects: Angola; Angola--History--Civil War, 1975-2002; Burundi; Burundi--History--Civil War, 1993-2005; Egypt; Israel; Middle East; Rwanda; Rwanda--History--Civil War, 1994--Atrocities; Sinai (Egypt); Somalia; South Sudan; United States. Africa Command

29:53 - Work on African affairs in the United Nations Security Council, early 2000s

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Partial Transcript: And then after Angola?

Keywords: atrocities; borders; C. Taylor; civil war; Cold War; diamonds; dictators; G. Garibaldi; human rights; L. Kabila; Leopold II; M. Sese Seko; peace process; peacekeeping; R. Holbrooke; S. Touré; trial; tribunal; tyrants; violence

Subjects: Congo (Democratic Republic); Congo (Democratic Republic)--History--1997-; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Liberia; Liberia--History--Civil War, 1999-2003; Sierra Leone; Sierra Leone--History--Civil War, 1991-2002; United Nations

36:46 - September 11th, 2001/ State Department Policy Planning Staff

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so 2002, what happens then?

Keywords: C. Powell; Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); civil-military divide; diplomacy; hijacking; Manhattan; R. Haass; Taliban; terrorism; terrorists; Twin Towers; witness; World Trade Center

Subjects: 9/11 Terrorists Attacks, 2001; Afghanistan; Iraq; New York (N.Y.); Saudi Arabia; United States. Department of Defense

44:08 - Burundi/Kosovo, early-mid 2000s

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Partial Transcript: This was 2002, 2003.

Keywords: Albanian; children; deputy chief of mission (DCM); ethnic conflict; hunger; independence; J. Yellin; P. Nkurunziza; poverty; T. Kaidanow; US embassy

Subjects: Albanian language; Burundi; Kosovo (Republic)

49:11 - Iraq, late 2000s-early 2010s

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Partial Transcript: So Kosovo 2006, 2008. And then I decided it was time to go to Iraq.

Keywords: anthropology; brokering; culture; D. Petraeus; diverse; diversity; ethnic conflict; federalism; G. Volesky; history; insurgency; Iraq war; language; leadership; multi-ethnic; nation building; peace process; peacemaking; persecution; politics; power; R. Crocker; religion; violence

Subjects: Iraq; Kurdish language; Kurdistan; Mosul (Iraq)

58:44 - Becoming ambassador to Guinea, 2012

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Partial Transcript: So when did you leave Iraq?

Keywords: anthropology; communities; culture; diaspora; history; language; migration; refugees; US Embassy

Subjects: French language; Guinea

63:28 - Ensuring peace at the polls

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Partial Transcript: Can you tell me about the early days of being ambassador?

Keywords: A. Condé; brokering; democracy; elections; legislature; M. Camara; politics; transfer of power; voting

Subjects: Guinea

65:04 - Beginning of 2013-16 Ebola epidemic in Guinea

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Partial Transcript: So we inaugurated the national assembly in January of 2013 and my deputy and I were at the ceremony like, okay, what are we going to do now?

Keywords: advising; advisory role; B. Dahl; beginning; borders; conspiracy theories; corruption; Doctors without Borders; fear; Forest region; Guinea Forestier; M. Kinzer; meetings; ministry of health; MSF; nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); outbreaks; P. Lindland; P. Rollin; R. Lamah; rumors; start; technical advisors; Viral Special Pathogens Branch (VSPB)

Subjects: Catholic Relief Services; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.); Médecins sans frontières (Association); United States. Agency for International Development

70:07 - Advising President Condé on relationship with international NGOs

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Partial Transcript: But he was very hostile to the idea of civil society, of NGOs, and we actually had a couple of shouting matches, which is not a career move for an ambassador

Keywords: B. Kouchner; clinical care; Doctors without Borders; Ebola treatment units (ETUs); government; influence; local control; MSF; R. Shah; sovereignty; T. Frieden

Subjects: Catholic Church. National Conference of Catholic Bishops; Catholic Relief Services; Médecins sans frontières (Association); United States. Agency for International Development. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance

73:49 - Working with CDC to advise President Condé on Ebola response

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Partial Transcript: But Ben and Pierre and Mike were critical in this because unlike the Liberians, Guinea never went the security-based route of forced quarantine

Keywords: A. Condé; advice; B. Dahl; behavior change; criminalization; economic effects; education; Guinean military; hand washing; hardline; hygiene; I. Balde; infection prevention and control (IPC); influence; isolation; M. Kinzer; markets; P. Rollin; quarantine; S. Keita; schools; screening; supplies; temperature; thermometers

Subjects: Guinea. Armée guinéenne

78:24 - Promoting a non-militaristic quarantine strategy/Advising President Condé

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Partial Transcript: What finally ended up sort of working was the encerclage.

Keywords: A. Condé; ambulances; B. Dahl; cerclage; coercive; encerclage; fear; frankness; Guinean military; honesty; I. Balde; isolation; L. Martel; negotiation; P. Rollin; patient transport; police; quarantine; S. Keita; screening; T. Frieden; travel; unrest; violence

Subjects: Guinea. Armée guinéenne

84:18 - The capacity of the Guinean government

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Partial Transcript: When you describe how President Condé advocated for the government to do more, for the state to do more and was kind of distrustful of all these other organizations

Keywords: development; health sector

85:46 - Entry into Guinean communities as a foreigner

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Partial Transcript: You send white Land Cruisers into Liberia and Sierra Leone, people know that they’re bringing food or relief supplies or medicine, and they know that good things, protection, lifesaving support

Keywords: A. Condé; anthropology; Basse Côte; burials; capacity building; clerics; culture; economics; faith leaders; farming; fear; funerals; history; imams; Islam; land; language; leadership; left-wing; M. Tchecola; messaging; moral leadership; Muslim; ownership; rapprochement; religion; respect; rites; rituals; socialist; T. Frieden; trust; understanding

Subjects: Peace Corps (U.S.); Susu language

100:19 - Visiting rural Guinean villages/The importance of engaging with local leadership

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Partial Transcript: When you look back, is there a certain village that you remember going to that you can describe for me, one that stands out to you?

Keywords: B. Dahl; Benty; clerics; communications; community outreach; culture; deference; gender; health promotion; imams; language; messages; messaging; moral leadership; radio; religion; respect; S. Keita; social mobilization; T. Frieden; Télimélé; trust

Subjects: Mali

108:23 - National leadership structure of Guinea’s Ebola response

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned the importance in your previous work before becoming ambassador to Guinea of getting the right people a seat on the table.

Keywords: A. Condé; A. Keita; diplomacy; hierarchy

110:10 - The many parties to the Ebola response in Guinea

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Partial Transcript: One thing the government didn’t do and I pushed on, they never got the survivors into the game.

Keywords: civil society; fieldwork; P. Graaff; reflections; regrets; survivors; viral persistence

Subjects: Cuba; France; Peace Corps (U.S.)