Decolonising Global Health

Patrick Manson

Patrick Manson experimenting with filaria sanguinis-hominis on a human subject in China. Painting by E. Board, ca. 1912. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY

In recent years the question of how we ‘decolonise’ global health has risen to the top of the agenda.  The ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ movement amongst university students in South Africa and Oxford has drawn attention to  historic inequalities that remain in higher education.  Meanwhile the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests in summer 2020, against the backdrop of COVID 19, underscored how social and health inequalities are  still determined by race and ethnicity.  Wrapped up in the term ‘decolonise’ are a host of current issues, including our curriculum, the composition of our staff and students, and the imbalance between North and South in research capacity and funding.  Yet ‘decolonise’ also refers specifically to historical processes, with its implication that legacies of the colonial past still determine such inequities.  For us at LSHTM, an institution which owes its existence to the British imperial project, this is a history we need to confront.

Our current focus includes a research project on LSHTM's colonial past, and a lecture series open to all staff and students about the entangled histories of tropical medicine, public health and colonialism.  To learn more, follow the links below:' 

Lecture Series on Decolonising Global Health: History and Legacy

Collage of images showing scenes representing decolonising global health

In our debates about Decolonising Global Health and Black Lives Matter, students and staff have regularly commented that the School should do more to raise awareness of colonial history, and its continuing relevance to global health.  In response to this, the LSHTM History Centre will run a series of lectures in 2020-2021, to which any interested students and staff can opt in. Learn more and full programme.

The LSHTM and Colonial Histories

In light of parallel and interconnected movements to decolonise public health universities, curricula and practices, the LSHTM and Colonialism research project represents LSHTM’s commitment to researching its colonial history. Read more about the project.