The following text is excerpted from an op-ed that appeared in Devex on July 9 by R4D Senior Executive Program Director Chris Atim. Dr Atim shares five ideas to decolonize global health and global development.
As a health economist from Ghana, I’m often asked about my take on the decolonization of global health.
For me, any discussion of decolonization brings to mind Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, who — along with other African liberation leaders — spearheaded the decolonization of other countries on the continent.
He also frequently spoke of the more difficult struggle against neocolonialism, in which a nominally independent state has its economic system and political choices directed from outside.
Nkrumah’s insights have proved remarkably prescient in foreshadowing the current movement to decolonize global development.
Within the field of global health — and development more generally — there is broad agreement that unfair power balances exist. Donors wield most of the power and determine what gets funded, who is an expert, what gets researched, and who researches it. A large amount of money and power flows to organizations in high-income countries — not to the countries where their programs are focused.