[In this article published in BMJ, R4D’s Chris Atim and others examine a decolonial approach to providing high quality health care for all.]
Colonialism continues to shape local health systems and access to high quality care. The 2013-16 Ebola crisis in west Africa, for example, has roots in a colonial history of extractive mining industries, which continue to divert critical financial resources from the region leaving health systems underfunded. Consequently, when Ebola broke out, patients’ quality of care was undermined by vulnerabilities in their local health systems, including medication and workforce shortages. This was coupled with a poorly coordinated global response that accepted lower standards of care for those living in the global south. Such inequities can be traced back to ideologies of oppression and exploitation, which assign different values to human life based on factors such as skin colour and place of origin.