News

Medical journal to tackle racism

One of the world’s best-known general medical journals The Lancet is producing a series of academic papers to centre the complex challenges of racism and xenophobia, which it says has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 outbreak, in the health discourse.

The journal, one of the oldest in the world, is working with a diverse team of academics and activists globally to highlight injustices, identify solutions, and enact change.

Alongside this, the journal is also launching the Race & Health Movement at https://raceandhealth.org/  a multi-disciplinary community of practice that will continue beyond the social media.

According to a recent Lancet article entitled ‘Racism, the public health crisis we cannot ignore’ the COVID-19 outbreak has uncovered an uncomfortable propensity towards racism, xenophobia, and intolerance exacerbated by transnational health challenges and national politics.  “Our vision is to provide a catalyst in tackling the adverse health effects of racism, xenophobia, and discrimination. Academic outputs on their own are irrelevant. We must use the evidence to advocate for change and improvements in health. In this spirit, we are launching a global consultation, asking: what should we do, and how should we do it?”

HPF’s Executive Director Sione Tu’itahi says this is an important contribution by Lancet to address racism, which is “a very destructive determinant of health and wellbeing to millions of Indigenous and ethnic minorities around the world, including New Zealand, Australia and other parts of the Pacific”.

“Translating research-based evidence on racism into action is greatly needed now, given what we know of the inequities and deprivation that many population groups have experienced due to racism and it’s many forms,” says Mr Tu’itahi.

The Lancet points out that internationally, we have witnessed the vilification of particular nationalities, with overt forms of sinophobia. (anti-Chinese sentiment)

The article states that politically, xenophobia has been weaponised to enforce border controls against particular nationalities and undermine migrant rights. In the UK, minoritised ethnic groups are more likely to contract a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and, subsequently, face a higher risk of a severe form of illness.

“Society is unwell. The symptoms—racialised violence, and excess morbidity and mortality in minority ethnic populations—reflect the cause: an unjust and unequal society … As a health community, we must do more than simply describing inequities in silos, we must act to dismantle systems that perpetuate the multiple intersecting and compounding systems of oppression that give rise to such inequities and injustices.”

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