‘Race, Racism and Health’ Conference Announced

  • Published: 25.01.2022

Some of the most influential figures on race and health inequalities will take part in the independent NHS Race and Health Observatory’s forthcoming international conference on ‘Race, Racism and Health’.

The Observatory has today announced its inaugural conference on 7 and 8 July 2022.  It will be hosted by the Chairs of its International Race and Health Experts Group, Professor David Williams, Harvard University, and Yvonne Coghill, CBE.

The virtual conference will feature keynote speeches, panel discussions, podcasts, videos, patient stories and interactive Q&A sessions, with leading race and health experts from the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Guatemala.

The event, supported by the British Medical Journal, will bring together key experts focused on global health challenges, interventions and ways to improve health and adapt best clinical practice. Academic scientists, patient case studies and researchers will explore the link and effects of long-standing racism practices and describe promising approaches to reduce ethnic health inequities from their respective countries.

Areas of focus will include maternal and neonatal health; mental health; COVID-19; sickle cell disease; digital healthcare; genomics and precision medicine and race equality in the healthcare workforce.

Professor David Williams, Harvard University, and NHS Race and Health Observatory board member, said:

“We know that no single solution in one country will necessarily be relevant to another. Cultural differences matter, and we must be vigilant about acknowledging this.  But we also know that there are common strategies that might be applicable across national boundaries.  We want to learn what’s working and disseminate what we learn and what  experience has taught us because the status quo will no longer suffice.

“We must not look the other way when the equivalent of a jumbo jet of Black people are dying each day in the United States solely because of the color of their skin, or when Native people from the Amazon to New Zealand suffer from disease that unnecessarily defines their lives.  There is much to be done, and we are prepared to share our learnings with leaders in our countries and beyond.”

Professor Williams, NHS Race and Health Observatory Board Member Yvonne Coghill and Dr Kamran Abbasi, Editor in Chief from the British Medical Journal, will chair conference sessions. These will consider ways that global health inequities can be challenged and how to close gaps linked to race, health and racism.

International Race and Health Experts Group Chair and NHS Race and Health Observatory Board Member, Yvonne Coghill, said:

“This is an important time for the Observatory as we explore and share the global impact of race and racism on health outcomes. It is imperative that this work is prioritised globally, and that together we share replicable learning outcomes and solutions to tackle persisting racial health inequalities that are suffered disproportionately by our global Black, Asian and other ethnic minority communities.”

Dr Habib Naqvi, Director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, said:

“This conference will provide a unique platform for healthcare researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends and challenges encountered in the field of race, ethnicity and health from across the globe.

“We welcome the opportunity for healthcare systems to share, learn and adopt better ways to improve access, experience and outcomes from healthcare for our diverse communities.”

Members of the international Race Health experts group include:

  •  Professor David R. Williams, (Co-Chair) Professor of Public Health, Harvard University (U.S.A)


  • Yvonne Coghill, (Co-chair) Special Advisor, NHS Race and Health Observatory (UK)


  • Andy Burness, Founder and president of Burness, a mission-driven global communications firm supporting non-profits and the people they serve (U.S.A)


  • Ricci Harris, Public Health Physician and Associate Professor, Eru Pōmare Māori Health Research Centre, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington (New Zealand)


  • Professor Stephani Hatch, Professor of Sociology and Epidemiology, leading the Health Inequalities Research Group at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London (UK)


  • Raymond Lovett, Program leader for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University (Australia)


  • Anthony Mbewu, Specialist in internal medicine and cardiology (South Africa)


  • Professor James Nazroo, Professor of Sociology, University of Manchester (UK)


  • Irma Velásquez Nimatuj, Spokeswoman for Indigenous communities in Central America, journalist, activist and University of Oregon Visiting Professor (Guatemala)


  • Professor Naomi Priest, Group Leader of Social-Biological Research, Centre for Social Research and Methods, Australian National University and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (Australia)


  • Dr Priscilla Reddy, Visiting Scholar Centre for Critical Research in Race and Identity, University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa)


  • Dr Janet Smylie, Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto (Canada)


  • Dr Laurie Zephyrin, Vice president for Advancing Health Equity at the Commonwealth Fund (U.S.A)

The group is overseen by Observatory director, Dr Habib Naqvi.

The Observatory board consists of 16 members, alongside an Academic Reference Group and themed workstream groups covering mental health, maternity, data and digital, stakeholder engagement, and international partnerships.

The conference and registration will be staged by NHS Confederation. Further details on registration will be announced shortly,