Disrupting Global Health: From Allyship To Collective Liberation
Global health is a field that was born out of colonialism and white supremacy. Even today, it is neither diverse nor truly global. Every aspect of global health is dominated by individuals and institutions in high-income countries (HIC). This includes funding, authorship of publications, leadership of agencies, composition of boards, editorial positions, awards, and even participation in conferences. So, if global health has to be reimagined, people that typically hold power and privilege must master the art of allyship, where they see their primary role as allies or accomplices rather than leaders.
Data show that two-thirds of global health agencies are headquartered in just three countries: Switzerland, UK and USA. More than 80% of CEOs and board chairs of global health organizations are nationals of HICs. Leadership across the global health sector is mainly in the hands of older men from HICs. A typical CEO of a global health agency is 3-times more likely to be a male, 4-times more likely to be from a HIC, and 13-times more likely to have been educated in a HIC.
In short, global health is firmly centered on those with power and privilege, and focused on their generosity and saviorism. We see this right now, with Covid-19 vaccine inequity. Rich nations have hoarded vaccines and their trickle-down charity model has ensured a prolonged pandemic.
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