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Racial equality

LSHTM update on 20 May 2021

The past year has been one of global protest and action, as the murder of George Floyd put a spotlight on the inequalities and racism in our society.

At LSHTM this has been a time to listen, learn, reflect, and take purposeful action – a process which we recognise is only the beginnings of ensuring everything we do is inclusive, fair and transparent, and free from any form of racism and discrimination.

Over the past 12 months, we have undertaken a number of actions and initiatives:

  • Council has established a new Diversity & Inclusion Committee, chaired by an independent member of Council, Mohamed Osman. The Committee’s purpose is to hold LSHTM and its Senior Leadership Team to account to ensure that our institution has an integrated and proactive approach to equality, diversity, and inclusion. The committee has independent members, staff and student representatives, and benefits from external insight and expertise provided by newly appointed co-opted members.
  • An independent review to address discrimination and to advance anti-racism and equality at our institution is being commissioned by the governing Council of LSHTM. The review will examine our institution’s track record and history in respect of race equality, including an assessment of issues raised by members of the LSHTM community in the wake of George Floyd’s murder on 25 May 2020. Tenders from potential reviewers are currently being evaluated, and it is hoped interim findings will be available in September 2021.
  • Work to decolonise the curriculum has progressed with module organisers reviewing materials, new feedback opportunities put in place for students to evaluate modules, and eight Decolonising the Curriculum Facilitators appointed. A series of events on Decolonising the Curriculum – In conversation (log in required) has showcased how other institutions have been tackling the challenges of decolonising their curricula. A new post within our Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching will shortly be advertised to support inclusive curriculum design and delivery.
  • Recruitment is underway for a new Widening Participation Advisor post in Registry. This role will lead on the development and implementation of strategies to widen access and participation of students from underrepresented groups, and review existing admissions processes to ensure equity is embedded at every stage of the process.
  • Our Report & Support tool launched in September 2020, enabling staff and students to safely and confidentially report incidents of bullying, discrimination, and harassment, and to access support. Reports can be made anonymously. We complete termly and annual analysis of reports, and publish data summaries of reports and the actions taken. We are working to be more attentive to ensuring that students receive feedback on outcomes.
  • In early 2020, we introduced anonymised shortlisting for recruitment of professional service staff. We continue to publish our promotions data from the annual academic promotions round, which includes promotions data by gender and ethnicity. In addition to publishing our gender pay gap data, this year we will also publish our ethnicity pay gap data and explore ways to eliminate pay gaps where they exist.
  • A number of staff teams, including senior management have participated in training on microaggressions and bystander intervention training, and attended listening sessions to understand key themes from staff and students who have experienced the effects of racism and marginalisation. Further training is now being rolled out across the LSHTM staff community. We hold regular Q&A webinars for our staff and students, with sessions dedicated to equity, diversity and inclusion. A ‘Safe Space for People of Colour’ staff and student group has been set up, offering a forum for reflection and support.
  • We have joined the Race Equality Charter and started detailed work to enable us to meet the expectations of the Charter. A new Race Equality Advisor has been appointed to take this work forward. 
  • A central repository of resources for staff and students has been set up on the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion intranet (log in required). 
  • A Decolonising Global Health: History and Legacy lecture series has been providing students and staff with a unique perspective on the historical roots of LSHTM and global health as a field. A series of Decolonising Global Health - In conversation events provided space for learning and discussions on racism, colonialism and related power dynamics, often at the intersection with health and medicine. We will continue to run these sessions.

We’re committed to providing an inclusive research, education and working environment reflected through a community that everyone feels a part of, which is safe, respectful, supportive and enable all to reach their full potential. We recognise that we have much work to do in this respect and will continue to focus and invest in improvements for the foreseeable future.


Statement from Peter Piot on 9 June 2020

In my nearly ten years as Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), it is hard to imagine a more challenging and important time.

In the last two weeks, the global scourge that is racism has been brought into sharp focus in an horrific way. George Floyd’s senseless death has angered and shaken us all.

Many of you have questioned LSHTM’s commitment to ending racial injustice. I would like to thank all those who have taken the time to share their perspectives and experiences – I know that this has not been easy. I want to be clear; we are listening and we are committed to action.

At LSHTM, we reiterate our condemnation of this despicable act of brutality, and the many others that have preceded and followed it. Racism and violence have no place in our School or society. We stand in solidarity with our Black students, staff and alumni, other members of our BAME community, and all those who pursue an end to racism. We affirm that all Black Lives Matter.

Racism is also a public health crisis – look no further than inequalities that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed, as recently revealed by research at our School by Liam Smeeth’s group. University and research spaces are not free from racism and discrimination. LSHTM is no exception as illustrated by the stories in the letter I received. We must face some uncomfortable truths about our own history, which has been shaped by colonialism and the patterns of racial discrimination that characterise it. We acknowledge the pain and suffering that anti-Black and other forms of racism have caused and continue to cause. It is not acceptable.

We know that we need to go further than condemning this. To stand against racism means we must reflect on the privileges of some, and ensure racism is eliminated in all that we do.

We have already taken a number of steps, but we will now take bigger strides. These will help shape the future of our School for the better at this pivotal time. So we commit to listen, to learn, to reflect, and take decisive action.

Working with our staff and students, the School’s Senior Leadership Team is committed to doing more to tackle racism. We will share further plans but from today we can announce the following actions:

  • Going forward and with immediate effect, Professor Kara Hanson, Dean of Public Health and Policy, will champion our actions to tackle racial harassment and discrimination, on behalf of the Senior Leadership Team.
  • Through our current transition of education for 2020/21 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond, we will conduct a comprehensive review of learning materials to ensure that they reflect an inclusive approach and do not include racist or colonial perspectives and language.
  • We will immediately work to widen our student admission practices.
  • We will implement a new online 'Report and Support' tool this summer for reporting any instances of bullying, harassment or misconduct, alongside full support and guidance for its use.
  • We will intensify monitoring of our recruitment and promotion processes to ensure equitable representation, and where needed adapt our procedures.
  • We will develop resources, facilitate discussions and training in order to increase awareness of racial harassment and its impact, and increase cultural competence to ensure the whole of the LSHTM community is aware of the role we must play.
  • We will sign up to the Race Equality Charter as a framework to our approach to tackling racial inequalities more broadly.
  • We commit to work in collaboration with LSHTM's Decolonising Global Health group to ensuring the lived experiences of staff and students are embedded throughout.
  • We will develop a central repository of resources to better access reading materials, podcasts, videos, and upcoming live events related to anti-racist initiatives.
  • We will share the findings of, and build on, the recommendations of the project on the Colonial History of LSHTM, which I commissioned in 2018.

We are proud of our role in improving the lives of people around the world, and of our diverse student, and alumni community. However, as a leading global health institution, we can do better, and we must be at the forefront of change.

We have much work to do, and are totally committed to address inequalities.

Everyone has the right to live in a world free from racism and injustice.

Peter Piot


LSHTM Viral: What is the impact of racism and colonialism on healthcare?

As the momentum behind Black Lives Matter and placing social justice before social distancing grows worldwide, we speak to Dr Lioba Hirsch, a Research Fellow who is studying the colonial history of LSHTM. Dr Hirsch walks us through some of the challenges faced by Black, Asian, and minority ethnic people during COVID-19, what the impact of racism within healthcare systems looks like, and how we can start facing the legacy of colonialism in global health.


LSHTM statement on 4 June 2020

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and subsequent events, have highlighted the inequalities and racism in our society. #BlackLivesMatter and we stand with our Black students, staff and alumni.

We acknowledge that racism is not only an issue in the US but also here in the UK, as evidenced by the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. We recognise that we all have a role to play and that university spaces are not free from racism and discrimination.

LSHTM is committed to addressing inequalities within and outside the institution, as reflected in our mission to improve health equity. As a community we strive to learn, to reflect and to support our staff and students by looking into our own structures and spaces with humility and care in order to contribute, in our small way, to the fight against racism.

Find out further information on the work currently being undertaken in developing LSHTM’s EDI strategy (intranet) as well as information on LSHTM's Decolonising Global Health and upcoming discussions (intranet).

More immediately, we wanted to reassure members of our community that we aim to support you as best we can. If you have been affected by the recent events, support is available:


LSHTM statement against racism as a result of COVID-19

As a global institution with over 3,000 staff working across the world, at LSHTM we are proud to be members of diverse community in the world. LSHTM is committed to providing an inclusive education, research and working environment free from bullying and harassment, ensuring all staff and students are treated and treat others with respect, consideration, courtesy and dignity at all times. As a university and as a community we do not tolerate racism or harassment.

We recognise that the vast majority of people share our values of respect, courtesy and dignity and that many people are supporting each other during these challenging times. We have been deeply concerned to hear reports of racial harassment and abuse both in the UK and around the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These attacks are cowardly and ignorant and are causing stigma and discrimination against minority and marginalised groups. Coronavirus is not associated with, or more likely to be spread by, any one ethnic group or community. We are all just as likely to get the virus as each other.

We have, therefore, published this statement to speak out against these racist and xenophobic behaviours; and to stand together against hate crime. This is a time when we must work together and support each other - not create more division and hurt.

Professor Peter Piot, Director of LSHTM
Professor Umberto Dalessandro, Director of MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM
Professor Pontiano Kaleebu, Director of MRC/UVRI & LSHTM Uganda Research Unit