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What is Colonial about Global Health?

Hosted by LSE Festival: Shaping the Post-COVID World

Online public event


Dr Sumegha Asthana

Dr Sumegha Asthana

Dr Mosoka Fallah

Dr Mosoka Fallah

Professor Paul Farmer

Professor Paul Farmer


Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey

Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey

Can COVID-19 invigorate an alternative vision for the future of global health?  

Our panel address the legacy of colonialism within international health systems and ask: what is the relationship between histories of imperialism and health, development and human rights? How can international institutions be reformed to overturn the global North’s dominance in health programming? How might new funding arrangements that empower global South infrastructures affect the public health agenda?  

The pandemic offers an opportunity to critically appraise the current state of global health and its governance structures. In disrupting health systems across the globe, it held a magnifying glass to the way colonial legacies shape the geopolitics of health responses, including power relations between different countries and international organisations. Here we discuss global, regional and local systems of oppression, what decolonisation means in global health, and offer integrative approaches to global health research, policy and practice. 

Meet our speakers and chair

Sumegha Asthana is a physician, health administrator and a health policy and systems researcher by training. Her public health journey started ten years ago in India with a masters in health administration from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. After which she worked with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), India as a consultant. This was followed by her doctoral research in social medicine which is based at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and focuses on the role of global actors in health systems strengthening in India. Sumegha is a Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellow (SYLFF) supported by the Tokyo Foundation, Japan and a DAAD scholar under the “A New Passage to India” program at Bielefeld University, Germany. She is an advocate for decolonizing global health and building HPSR capacities in LMICs.  She is based in Delhi and works as an independent public health consultant . She is an honorary lecturer at Queen Mary University London, where she teaches global health policy and governance. Sumegha is also the country lead of the India chapter of a global social movement called Women in Global Health, which aims to achieve gender equality in global health leadership.

Mosoka P Fallah is the Founder and Executive Director of Refuge Place International, an NGO in Liberia addressing access to affordable quality health care for poor urban and rural dwellers. He and his team are currently working to rapidly scale up this successful model across the country. Mosoka was the recent past Director-General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), which he co-founded in 2017. In this capacity, he oversaw the Divisions of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, National Public Health Laboratory, Medical and Public Health Research, Training and Capacity Building, and Environmental and Occupational Health. Mosoka also helped establish the first Master's of Public Health (MPH) programme in the University of Liberia's College of Health Sciences, previously serving as Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry in the AM Dogliotti College of Medicine. He was named one of Time Magazine's Persons of the Year in 2014 for his Ebola relief efforts in Liberia as well as USAID's Liberia Health Worker and Development Person of the Year in 2017 for his work with Refuge Place. Mosoka completed a PhD in Immunology at the University of Kentucky; he subsequently studied Global Health, with a concentration in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health.

Paul Farmer holds an MD and PhD from Harvard University, where he is the Kolokotrones University Professor and the Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School; he is also Chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. He has written extensively on health, human rights, and the consequences of social inequality. He is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Margaret Mead Award from the American Anthropological Association, the Outstanding International Physician (Nathan Davis) Award from the American Medical Association, a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and, with his PIH colleagues, the Hilton Humanitarian Prize. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His most recent book is Fevers, Feuds, and Diamonds: Ebola and the Ravages of History.

Robtel Neajai Pailey is Assistant Professor in International Social and Public Policy at LSE. A scholar-activist working at the intersection of Critical Development Studies, Critical African Studies and Critical Race Studies, she centres her research on how structural transformation is conceived and contested by local, national and transnational actors from ‘crisis’-affected regions of the so-called Global South. Robtel's current project, Africa’s ‘Negro’ Republics, examines how slavery, colonialism and neoliberalism in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, respectively, have shaped the adoption and maintenance of constitutional clauses barring non-blacks from obtaining citizenship in Liberia and Sierra Leone. She is author of Development, (Dual) Citizenship and Its Discontents in Africa: The Political Economy of Belonging to Liberia (Cambridge University Press, 2021).

More about this event

This event is part of the LSE Festival: Shaping the Post-COVID World running from Monday 1 to Saturday 6 March 2021, with a series of events exploring the direction the world could and should be taking after the crisis.

The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa (@AfricaAtLSE) promotes independent academic research and teaching; open and issue-oriented debate; and evidence-based policy making. The Centre connects social sciences disciplines and works in partnership with Africa to bring African voices to global debates.

The Global Health Initiative (@LSEGlobalHealth) is a cross-departmental research platform set up to increase the coherence and visibility of Global Health research activity across the School, both internally and externally. It provides support for interdisciplinary engagement and showcases LSE’s ability to apply rigorous social science research to emerging global health challenges.

Twitter hashtags for this event: #LSEFestival

Podcast & Video

A podcast of this event is available to download from What is Colonial about Global Health?

A video of this event is available to watch at What is Colonial about Global Health?

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This event will be streamed live on the LSE Festival Hub.


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