Intended for healthcare professionals

Decolonising health and medicine

World map South-up Peters projection. Image credit: Daniel R. Strebe In this new podcast and article series in The BMJ on decolonising health and medicine. Experts from around the world explore the importance of recognising how colonial histories live on in the ways we teach, define, and practice health and medicine today.

Over the past few years, the decolonisation movement has been growing in the field of global health, calling for greater attention to the impacts of colonial-era patterns of exclusion and inequity in present systems of health, medicine, and research. The decolonisation movement demands that we examine class, race, gender, and geographical inequities in health and medical institutions and knowledge production, and calls for radical social change.

But going forward, what is missing from this conversation? Whose voices and perspectives need elevating? What do we need to do to advance this agenda and actualise a decolonial future? This podcast series critically examines the implications of historic inequities for individuals and institutions in health, medicine, as well as medical journals.

The series is hosted by Navjoyt Ladher, clinical editor, and Richard Hurley, collections editor. It is published in The BMJ podcast feed, available on Apple podcasts, Spotify or all other major podcasts apps.

Episode 1 - The colonial legacy in clinical medicine

Healthcare leaders discuss the ways in which colonial-era bias and eugenics persist in today’s medical education and clinical practice in the UK and beyond, and what meaningful change is required to overcome racial and other healthcare inequalities

Our panel

  • Annabel Sowemimo, sexual and reproductive health registrar and part-time PhD student and Harold Moody Scholar at King’s College London, UK
  • Thirusha Naidu, head of clinical psychology, King Dinuzulu Hospital, and associate professor, Department of Behavioural Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
  • Subhadra Das, UK based researcher and storyteller who specialises in the history and philosophy of science, particularly scientific racism and eugenics
  • Amali Lokugamage, honorary associate professor, Institute of Women's Health, University College London, and consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Whittington Hospital, London, UK

Episode 2 - Looking back to move forward: missing histories of the decolonisation agenda

Experts discuss how failing to confront colonial pasts is linked to present lack of progress in global health equity, why health leaders need historical educations, and how, for Indigenous peoples, it’s not just a colonial history but a colonial present.

Our panel

  • Seye Abimbola, editor of BMJ Global Health, and health systems researcher from Nigeria currently based at the University of Sydney, Australia
  • Catherine Kyobutungi, Ugandan epidemiologist and executive director of the African Population and Health Research Center, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Sanjoy Bhattacharya, head of the school of history and professor of medical and global health histories, University of Leeds, UK
  • Chelsea Watego, professor of Indigenous Health at Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Episode 3 - Common terrains of anti-colonial and feminist approaches to the politics of health

International health leaders discuss how feminist and decolonial advocates in health face similar resistance and attempts to sow divisiveness, and how they can join forces to promote health equity and justice for all.

Our panel

  • Raewyn Connell, sociologist and professor emerita at the University of Sydney, Australia
  • Sarah Hawkes, professor of global public health and director of the Centre for Gender and Global Health, University College London, UK
  • Sanjoy Bhattacharya, head of the school of history and professor of medical and global health histories, University of Leeds, UK
  • Asha George, professor and South African research chair in health systems, complexity, and social change, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Episode 4 - How to transform global health institutions born of colonial eras

Leaders from academic and funding organisations discuss the transformative change required to overcome extractive and inequitable research practices in global health, and the need for examining power and privilege within traditional research institutions.

Our panel

  • Samuel Oti, senior program specialist, International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada, and member of the Global Health Decolonization Movement in Africa (GHDM-Africa)
  • Muneera Rasheed, clinical psychologist and behaviour scientist and former faculty, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan
  • Liam Smeeth, professor of clinical epidemiology and director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  • Angela Obasi, senior clinical lecturer, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK
  • Seye Abimbola, editor of BMJ Global Health, and health systems researcher from Nigeria currently based at the University of Sydney, Australia
  • Jocalyn Clark, international editor, The BMJ, London, UK

Episode 5 - Getting our house in order: Decolonising the British Medical Association

Organisational and student leaders explore the responsibilities of the British Medical Association and The BMJ to understand and respond to its colonial history.

Our panel

  • Kamran Abassi, editor in chief, The BMJ, London, UK
  • Omolara Akinnawonu, Foundation year doctor, Essex, UK, and outgoing co-chair of the BMA medical students committee
  • Latifa Patel, elected chair of the UK BMA's Representative Body and BMA EDI lead

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