The "Black Lives Matter" protests that are drawing important attention to the impact of systemic racism on people's lives have given the Malaria Centre cause to reflect on our activities. We acknowledge our academic structures are rooted in the colonialist heritage that led to the very idea of "Tropical Medicine", an approach which is at odds with our humanitarian traditions and aspirations. We are wholeheartedly committed to making changes and implementing incisive action to ensure that we amplify the contribution of endemic-country colleagues, collaborators and students in our research and teaching, and in our scientific meetings together. We acknowledge that more can be done and should be done, committing to tackle systemic bias through cooperative action by all of us in the Malaria Centre.
In discussions with Centre members this week, we spoke about ways that we can actively make changes to combat systemic racism, as opposed to taking a passive approach. We also reflected on what we have learnt from the current covid-19 pandemic, including how technology opens possibilities for greater international connectedness and new ways of working.
We have come up with a three-point plan to improve opportunities for endemic-country members within the Malaria Centre:
- We will, with immediate effect, move our seminars and scientific discussions onto digital platforms. This will allow all Malaria Centre members to participate in the audience, but also to present their work in these meetings, shifting the emphasis away from established senior staff based in the UK. We will make a great effort to promote our endemic-country speakers, and early career speakers, to an academic audience beyond LSHTM to build and enhance their reputations beyond our institutions.
- We will actively engage with and lobby for non-London-based Centre members to contribute to malaria content in MSc lectures, short courses and other teaching modalities, now largely online, so that our students experience learning from a more diverse and representative academia than is currently the case.
- We will actively encourage members to revise the content of all malaria-related teaching materials to ensure they reflect the historical context of our field yet are inclusive, forward-looking and informative for all students.
We invite all members to contribute suggestions for other ways we can actively combat systemic racism - please contact email@example.com
For those of you who haven’t received Peter Piot’s statement, it can be found here. LSHTM have also just published the next LSHTM Viral episode on racism and colonialism in healthcare with Research Fellow Lioba Hirsch, who is looking into the colonial history of LSHTM.
There cannot be any complacency as to the need for global action.
With your help, we can plug critical gaps in the understanding of COVID-19. This will support global response efforts and help to save lives around the world.