Our strategy to improve diversity and inclusion

19 Feb 2021

In light of global movements fighting racism, discrimination and colonialism, we wanted to update you on the work we are doing under our current strategy to improve diversity and inclusion in all our activities and programmes.

In all we do, and all relationships we have with our members and Fellows, volunteers, partners, suppliers and our wider networks, we work to the values of transparency, respect and dignity. RSTMH condemns racism and all forms of discrimination.

Historic links to colonialism, national and racial hierarchies, current inequities in income, and lack of access to education, water and sanitation, land ownership, and other human rights are significant as contexts for the inequitable access to healthcare.

Improving the diversity of our Board

As a charity focused on tackling these injustices, we are committed to ensuring the Society is as accessible and inclusive as possible.

We represent those working and interested in tropical medicine and global health across all countries, disease areas, sectors, disciplines and career stages and try to further their careers, as well as tackling the barriers of equity in health.

Within our current five-year strategy, we have been striving to improve diversity and inclusion in our work.

At governance level, we have taken steps to improve the diversity of our Board and Committees to ensure that nationality, gender, sector, discipline and area of health, are represented as equally as possible.

Last year we opened up two new seats on our Board for those based in and working in countries endemic to the diseases and healthcare challenges we work in.

If you are an RSTMH member or Fellow, you can apply via the online form before 22 March.  

Global network

The roles of Regional, Country and Student Ambassador were developed to ensure our work is disseminated by, but also that we are taking onboard advice and opinions, from a network of specialists and those early in their careers from endemic countries.

These roles provide input at governance and operational level to ensure we are addressing challenges currently being faced at country and community level. These might include raising awareness of key issues, helping to change policy or addressing a funding or research gap.

These roles have also started to demonstrate greater accessibility across the world for our small grants programme, and other areas of support which we hope will encourage the next generation of leaders, innovators and experts in health.

Diversifying our events

In our current strategy we set targets around delivering more of our meetings and events outside of the UK and establishing ways to make them more accessible, for example through the expansion of travel scholarship opportunities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has paused our efforts in this area, however the move to virtual meetings for us and in our sector has helped us to deliver meetings that are inherently more accessible to more people, and also helped us learn about new techniques and platforms to optimise this in the future.

Access to our journals

We have also changed the model for delivering our scientific journals in the last few years. This has created opportunities to develop new editorial board roles with the aim of improving diversity of location, discipline, gender and sector.

International Health is now open access with content freely available. Publishing charges are discounted for members and discounted or waived for authors from low-income countries. Our other journal, Transactions, is a hybrid journal model in which authors can publish for free.

We also regularly publish free to view web collections of papers on topical matters.

Early Careers and students

By developing our strategy, we understood we needed to do more to support those based outside of the UK and those early in their careers.

In addition to the steps taken above we are working to extend our networks and our formal partnerships in all regions affected by the disease areas and health challenges we are trying to address.

Over the last two years we selected our first Early Careers Trustee, established more mentoring opportunities at our events and started the early career membership type, ensuring that those early in their careers are able to benefit from our support.

For students across the world, we have initiated the Student Essay Prize and Student Ambassador role and launched grow, a website that lists opportunities for jobs, courses, grants, PHDs and research and voluntary opportunities anywhere in the world for those trying to enter or progress their career in global health.

Looking to the future

Over the next two years we will continue to work on being as accessible as possible to those who could benefit from our work and support, as well as trying to improve diversity of the voices, experiences and skills that will help us achieve our ambitious goals.

I would like to take this opportunity to say how determined I am about tackling the barriers to equitable healthcare, and protecting the right that all of us share to good health. This is an important point in history when the world’s population faces the same healthcare challenge and the need for a fast and equitable resolution.

As vaccines are being developed for COVID-19, we have a chance to demonstrate that we can make equitable access work and support the most vulnerable in societies across the world.

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