Decolonizing Global Health

Afro Health Initiative
2 min readNov 8, 2020

Written by Najima Bawa, Program Development & Quality Coordinator, AHI CEO

A few months ago while scrolling through Instagram I came across a post on @popworksafrica which read, “Remember white supremacy is not a shark; it is the water” by Guante. The emerging global movement on decolonizing global health stands to deconstruct the idea that the Western way is the ONLY way. This article will briefly unpack what it means to decolonize global health and will share some practical ways to disrupt the structures that perpetuate white saviorism at the expense of the black lives.

COVID-19 continues to illuminate the existing issues around racism and power imbalance within the global health space. Back in April 2020, two French doctors stated vaccine trials should be held in Africa. The Director of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus quickly warned the global community stating “Africa will not be a testing ground for any vaccine and that the hangover of colonial mentality has to stop.”

The colonial mentality and existing structural racism within global health research and programming continues to exploit the lives of so many communities and countries across the continent. A May 21, 2019 Devex article shed light on how these longstanding power imbalances have led to ineffective health interventions which lack context and local buy-in, the use of aid to control governments, lack of respect for solutions, research, perspective and innovation from the global south.

In a BMJ article titled, Decolonizing global: If not now, when?, outlined how “histories of slavery redlining, environmental racism and predatory nature of capitalism underpin the design of global and public health systems, resulting in structural, racial, ethnic inequities”.

It is clear a paradigm shift in knowledge and leadership must take place to break the colonial structures that govern how global health is implemented.

Screenshot of Population Works Africa’s website

Population Works Africa (PopWorksAfrica) is an international consulting firm working to amplify the voices of young African advocates and build their capacity on how to utilize global spaces for local change. They are working to empower Africa’s greatest resources, which is people.

Additionally, they offer a Decolonize Development workshop/e-learning course to…

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Afro Health Initiative

Afrocentric brain gain​ platform engaging Africa’s diaspora for healthcare development