The Hertie School in Berlin, in collaboration with the OSF Public Health Program, is offering a five-day course "Health, Inequality, Ethnicity" in spring 2021. The programme will focus on racial prejudices and ethnic discrimination in healthcare, which impact quality of health as well as accessibility and utilisation, thus leading to health inequalities. The course serves as a platform for the medical community, public policymakers as well as social justice and human rights advocates in Europe to engage in dialogue on health outcomes of socially excluded communities and those who are subject to ethnic discrimination.
In particular, the course will equip participants with the necessary theoretical foundations in racial and ethnic inequality in health through relevant theories, empirical literature and case studies, as well as with tools to analyse inequality, quantify it, visualise it and present findings succinctly to stakeholders and policymakers. Contemporary issues related to climate change, social and material deprivation and environmental architecture will also be discussed in relation to racial and ethnic inequalities.
Our world is living longer and more healthily – life expectancy at birth has increased from 50 years in 1950 to 73 in 2017. While policies within and outside the health domain often focus on improving the level of health, the distribution of health is often ignored in policymaking. In other words, significant inequalities exist – life expectancy at birth, for example, varies substantially between European countries. Not only is health distributed unequally between regions and countries, stark inequalities persist even within countries and the socioeconomic gradient in health amplifies these problems. Characteristics such as race and ethnicity still lead to disparities in health and are unjustifiable. While health as an outcome in itself is a goal, the financing of healthcare poses unique challenges. Certain ethnicities and racial groups are subjected to catastrophic expenditures on health that force them into poverty. Understanding inequality in the finance of healthcare is thus important for policymaking.
Such social disparities arising due to racial or ethnic diversity will merit attention in future policy discourse, which will demand expertise in recognising, understanding and quantifying inequality in the finance and distribution of healthcare and health, as well as in identifying its determinants and applying the correct policy levers to address these disparities. In addition, questions related to resource allocation – principles of resource allocation and their normative implications – form an important part of political discussions in relation to decision-making and actionable policy.
Fighting for health equity
For a better understanding of the idea behind this workshop, watch this video documenting a very succesful initiative of the Open Society Foundations within the field of health equity.
The course will be structured over a week as follows:
Understanding racial and ethnic discrimination from a socio-medical and anthropological perspective will form the core of Day 1 to ensure participants are familiar with theoretical concepts and have a common foundation. We will focus on differences and similarities between the two approaches and how they view health-seeking behaviour that ultimately affects health outcomes.
We will dedicate Day 2 to understanding the concept of inequality, reflecting on past trends and anticipating future scenarios. We will establish common ground on the measurement of health outcomes and reporting standards and argue the need for race- or ethnicity-specific measures. We will focus on health outcomes and financing inequality, as well as their measurement for policy, and conclude the day by differentiating between justifiable and unjustifiable determinants of inequality.
On Day 3 we will introduce resource allocation principles in the distribution of healthcare. Philosophical and social rules for redistribution and the normative implications of these will be discussed and debated. We will critique the role of public policy in shaping inequalities and apply these to racial and ethnic inequalities. Lastly, we will pay attention to an often-forgotten perspective in healthcare discrimination, namely that of providers (physicians, nurses, etc.).
Contemporary issues related to health inequalities such as climate change and deprivation, the role of external environment, choice architecture, as well as the role of the corporate sector in enhancing or mitigating race-based inequalities (with a focus on access to medicines and the pharmaceutical sector) will be examined.
On the final day, we will consolidate what was learned to focus on EU policies and action steps thus far – we will analyse past policies and regulations and assess them both positively and normatively. We will examine the role of evidence-based policy and action and adopt a governance lens to evaluate inequalities and policy actions.
Who is this workshop for?
The course is intended for professionals whose work and interests are directly related to discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity or race and health in Europe.
- Leaders of civil society organisations who are running advocacy and health equity programmes and are involved in the design, implementation or monitoring of policies and practices that most impact health-related discrimination
- Government officials (ministries of health, justice or development, centralised planning units, NHRIs) with the power to support or regulate equitable access to health institutions
- International organisation representatives working on public health at an international or country level
- Healthcare professionals working with marginalised communities in particular
- Academics and researchers interested in inequality, ethnicity and health
Participants should be comfortable with participating in the seminar in English (both understanding presentations and speaking during participatory exercises).
Course Fee and Scholarships
€ 1,200 (excluding travel arrangements and accomodation)
Several full scholarships (tuition waiver, travel costs and accomodation) and partial scholarships (tuition waiver and accomodation) are available for applicants from the non-profit and civic sectors advocating for equality of access to health.
Course Lead and Facilitators
Prof. Dr. Mujaheed Shaikh is Course Lead and Professor of Health Governance at the Hertie School.
Owen O'Donnell is an Associate Professor in the Erasmus School of Economics and the University of Macedonia (Greece).
Prof. Dr. Marisa Miraldo is Associate Professor in Health Economics at the Imperial College Business School.
Sarah Salway, is Professor of Public Health in the Department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield.