Anti-Racism and Anti-Colonialism Praxis in Global Health-Reflection and Action for Practitioners in US Academic Medical Centers

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2021 Jul 19;105(3):557-560. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.21-0187.


The movement to decolonize global health and address power inequities among its actors is not new. Founded on the work of colonized and marginalized people themselves, initiatives at universities, schools of public health, and international development organizations have emerged to call for anti-racism and anti-colonialism within the field. US Academic Medical Centers (AMCs) have been less vocal in this wider discussion, despite their large engagement in the field through clinical, research, and medical education activities. As global health practitioners currently based at an AMC, we believe that it is important to critically evaluate our practices. We therefore propose three starting questions for our colleagues and students to consider and act upon as they adopt and navigate a praxis in anti-racism and anti-colonialism as foundational principles in global health. These questions call on us to closely examine the legacies of racism and colonialism in global health, the value placed on different ways of knowing in this field, and our motivations for engaging in this work. They are presented as a tool to reexamine global health, challenging the constructed binary of the "global South" and "global North," and the perceived ideas of poverty and resource scarcity as the natural immutable reality of the global South.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Colonialism*
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Motivation
  • Racism*
  • United States