Executive Education

Health, Inequality, Ethnicity

The Hertie School in Berlin, in collaboration with the OSF Public Health Program, is offering a five-day course "Health, Inequality, Ethnicity" in September 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.

For individuals interested in participating, please apply by sending an email to executive[at]hertie-school[dot]org


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

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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:



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.

These include:

  • 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 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).

  • Margareta Matache, PhD is a justice activist and scholar from Romania, director of the Roma Program at Harvard FXB, and also a Harvard instructor.

  • Sarah Salway, is Professor of Public Health in the Department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield.

  • Dr. Michelle Morse is an internal medicine and public health physician, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, Founding Co-Director of the non-profit organization EqualHealth, and is currently completing a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy fellowship in Washington DC.

  • Fernando De Maio, PhD is Director of Research and Data Use, Center for Health Equity, American Medical Association and Professor in the Department of Sociology at DePaul University.

  • Andrej Belák, Ph.D. teaches at the Slovak Academy of Science at the Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology.