Statement from Peter Piot
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.
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: