The brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless others before them are a result of brutality that has been and still is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy and racist violence towards Black people. These are not one-time incidents by rogue police officers or vigilantes, but rather the direct consequence of a structurally racist system that has treated Black lives as enemies.
The events of the past few weeks have caused us to reflect on ourselves as individuals, our privilege, our organization, our industry, and where we go from here. We acknowledge that racism is an ongoing public health crisis. It is a consequence of a structurally racist system that is failing people of color every day. This is readily apparent not only in the police brutality that disproportionately effects Black Americans, but also in the history of slavery and discrimination that can be seen today in many social determinants of health. While the COVID-19 pandemic has laid these inequities bare for all Americans to see, the underlying injustices have endured for generations.
As an organization, Global Emergency Care continues to be committed to strengthening the emergency care workforce capacity in Uganda and expanding the cadre of national clinical and research emergency medicine experts. We focus on local advocacy, and leveraging our privilege to amplify the Ugandan voice. Our vision is to be a part of building an emergency care system that is designed, implemented, and led by Ugandans for Ugandans.
We continue to be committed to demonstrate reciprocity to support the work of the leading Ugandan institutions in the quest to build a sustainable emergency care system. We strive to be a catalyst to reduce the unequal power dynamics between the global north and south by trying to build capacity, lead from behind, and do our best to listen and learn. Moving forward, we commit to inclusivity and to be enablers of our Ugandan colleagues in capacity development, academic research, and advocacy.
We work in Uganda where our staff on the ground is 100% Ugandan, but as global health practitioners, we recognize the enduring legacy of colonialism and structural racism in global health. We acknowledge the unequal power dynamics: racism, classism, and many of the residual exploitations of a terrible colonial past, while at the same time must commit to not engage in a neocolonial narrative. Today, we continue to commit to do our part to decolonize global health.
As Seye Ambimbola eloquently put it, “We can begin to truly decolonize global health by being aware of what we do not know, that people understand their own lives better than we could ever do, that they and only they can truly improve their own circumstances and that those of us who work in global health are only, at best, enablers.”
We have much work to do. In particular, those of us who are white must continually reckon with our privilege and take actions to enact a power shift. We need to have hard conversations, challenge our assumptions, cultivate empathy, and actively pursue an anti-racist, anti-colonialist agenda.
We do not yet have the answers of how we will implement these changes, but we are committed to this work and will keep all of you – our friends, families, supporters, and partners – updated as we do the necessary work. Thank you for fighting for a more equitable world with us.
In humility, commitment, and solidarity,
Mark Bisanzo, MD, DTM&H, FACEP
President of the Board of Directors
Heather Hammerstedt, MD, MPH, FACEP
Board of Directors
Stacey Chamberlain, MD, MPH
Board of Directors
Bradley Dreifuss, MD
Board of Directors
Tom Neill, MPH, MBA