By: David McCoy | Published: September 27, 2022
David McCoy is the Policy Lead at UNU-IIGH and oversees the Decolonising Global Health programme of work. In this blog post for The Collective for the Political Determinants of Health, of which McCoy is a member, he elaborates on the three dimensions of DGH as an approach to contemporary colonialism in global health.
Last week, the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (IIGH) launched a programme of work to decolonise Global Health (GH). The fact that the GH system may be colonial is a serious and surprising charge for actors and institutions more commonly associated with fighting disease and saving lives.
Colonialism is the result of power asymmetries where one group of people dominates and subjugates another group (or groups) to exploit them, and extract and appropriate wealth. While often accompanied by force and violence, colonial relationships may also be expressed subtly and even hidden in the guise of charity or aid. It can occur on multiple scales and levels and involve the direct occupation of the territory of others or occur indirectly through unfair economic structures and systems.