Since July 2023, the O’Neill-Lancet Commission on Racism, Structural Discrimination, and Global Health has achieved vital accomplishments, which we are pleased to share.

Webinar Events

Decolonizing Harm Reduction: Advancing Equity in Drug Control and Policy

As part of our commitment to engage and carry the public along and democratize our research processes, the Commission has held multiple public-facing events and consultations over the last few months. In October, the Commission hosted a virtual conversation, “Decolonizing Harm Reduction: Advancing Equity in Drug Control and Policy.” Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, the Deputy Director of Harm Reduction International, Colleen Daniels, and other esteemed subject matter experts discussed measures, policies, strategies, and actions needed to advance equity in drug policy and harm reduction.

Mental Health and the Media: Understanding and Overcoming the Impacts of Racism and Discrimination in the Media

In November, Commissioner Rokhaya Diallo joined journalists and media experts in one of our biggest webinars to discuss “Mental Health and the Media: Understanding and Overcoming the Impacts of Racism and Discrimination in the Media.” Panelists explored how racism operates with the increasing role that media plays in our understanding of the world and how media is used to perpetrate racism and structural discrimination. 

A Global Fight Against a Global Problem: EqualHealth’s Campaign Against Racism

In commemoration of Black History Month in the United States, the Commission, in conjunction with Equal Health’s Campaign Against Racism (CAR), held a public conversation highlighting the global phenomenon of racism. The speakers discussed its impacts on health, highlighting the work of CAR’s community organizers to interrupt the structural roots of observed “race”-associated differences in health status – tackling racism and its global manifestations.

In-Person Events

2023 World Health Summit

As part of a series of consultations on Decision-Making in Global Health Emergencies led by the Emergencies/Crises Working Group of the Commission, we hosted a closed-door high-level consultation on the sidelines of the 2023 World Health Summit in Berlin, Germany. The meeting was attended by key stakeholders in the decision-making process in global health, discussing in focus group style, under the protection of Chatham House rules, how equity and manifestations of racism and structural discrimination impacted decision-making in the most recent global health crises. 

Promoting Inclusion in Decision Making for Global Health Governance: Lessons from Africa’s New Public Health Order

Exemplifying our truly global mandate, the second event in the aforementioned series was a side event/consultation conducted at the Conference on Public Health in Africa on “Promoting Inclusion in Decision Making for Global Health Governance: Lessons from Africa’s New Public Health Order.” The event explored decision-making across three levels – global, regional, and national. It was well attended by important dignitaries, including WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, LGBTQIA+ activist Bisi Alimi, and several other leaders in public health and CSO representatives. Among the objectives of the side event was understanding the extent to which inclusiveness was a part of the decision-making process for African stakeholders in previous health emergencies.

Speaking Engagements and Press

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Our Commissioners have continued to speak up against racism and structural discrimination and promote anti-racist strategies in global health. In December, for World AIDS Day 2023, Commissioner Loyce Pace reminded us of the importance of inclusion and community engagement as we work towards ending AIDS by 2030. Commissioners Kevin Fenton and Kumanan Rasanathan also participated in a podcast discussion, unpacking racism in health, highlighting the importance of naming and describing racism even as we deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. At the World Health Summit in October 2023, co-Chair Ngozi Erondu and Commissioners Loyce Pace and Kumanan Rasanathan participated in a panel discussion on Racism in Global Health

Our Commissioners have also been awarded and featured in the media for their outstanding work. In October, Commissioner E. Tendayi Achiume was announced as a 2023 MacArthur Foundation Fellow for her work reframing foundational concepts of international law at the intersection of racial justice and global migration. Co-chair Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng was interviewed by the Stanford Social Innovation Review on Dismantling Structural Racism in Health Around the World. Commissioner Suraj Yengde was also featured in Hollywood producer Ava Duvernay’s new movie, Origin, which explores racism in America and caste systems in India. Rokhaya Diallo was featured in The Guardian after calling out racism and bullying, the unjust attacks on her, and the legal hurdles that accompanied it. Commissioner Attiya Waris joined other UN Experts to issue a formal communication to the OECD, cautioning against the implementation of its controversial “two pillars” reforms and the potentially discriminatory impact on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, and race. Co-Chair Ngozi Erondu was also recently profiled in the Lancet for her outstanding contributions to justice, equity, and dignity in global health.

In remaining true to its bold agenda and approach to speaking truth to power about the impact of racism and discrimination on health globally, the co-Chairs have openly and passionately spoken out highlighting the devastating health impacts on the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng has continued to speak up against the Israeli-Palestinian conflictcalling for an end to the war and condemning the destruction of the health system and hospitals in Gaza. Her thought leadership was cited in the arguments (see para 31. Pg 29/85) presented before the International Court of Justice judges, decrying the attack on health care systems. Our Commissioners also recently gathered via Zoom in a “Safe Space Conversation on the Conflict in Gaza.” Together, we learned about the history of the war and discussed what we, as a Commission, can do to take a stand for the rights of and against the decimation of Palestinians in Gaza.

What’s Next?

The primary objective during the first year was to delve into the Commission’s focus areas and initiate the process of gathering evidence. We believe that we have achieved that goal. On Monday, 11th March, we held a virtual meeting of all Commissioners to discuss our progress so far, with Commissioners presenting what they had learned from consultations and research conducted in the last year. 

For our second year, we are focused on completing the data-gathering process and commencing the initial drafting process for the Lancet report. This August, the Commissioners will meet in person for a workshop/retreat to review the initial draft of the Commission report.