Lawyer Priti Krishtel named to O’Neill-Lancet Commission

Washington, DC: Indian-American health justice lawyer Priti Krishtel and four other US-based experts have been named to the O’Neill-Lancet Commission on Racism, Structural Discrimination, and Global Health. 

Housed at Georgetown University Law Centre in Washington, the three-year commission, co-led by UN Special Rapporteur on right to health, seeks to identify anti-racist strategies to improve health globally, according to its website. 

The panel, including about 20 experts from across the globe, seeks to identify anti-racist strategies and actions to reduce barriers to health and well-being. 

“I’m so proud to serve on this commission that will help shape a future where all people know they can keep their loved ones healthy, where people actively shape what access to medicines looks like for their families and communities,” Krishtel said in a statement. 

Krishtel has spent 20 years exposing structural inequities affecting access to medicines and vaccines across the Global South and in the United States. 

The Commission starts with substantial evidence that communities are facing health barriers solely on the basis of race, ethnicity, tribe, caste, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, ability, class, geography, or religion, a statement posted on the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health website said. 

The concept of the commission is founded on the recognition that racism, rather than race, creates and maintains unjust and avoidable health inequities in countries around the world. Racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes are increasingly recognized worldwide. 

The statement said the spread of COVID-19 highlighted how socioeconomic inequalities, systemic racism, and structural discrimination influenced not only the risk and impact of disease but also access to quality treatment and care. 

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, systemic racism was also evident as world leaders failed to grant a patient waiver for COVID-19 vaccines. This would have ensured wider, earlier access to vaccinations for people living in Africa and parts of Southeast Asia,” said Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, Commission co-chair, and United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. 

This Commission will go beyond simply documenting disparities, as that is insufficient for understanding the connections between race, ethnicity, structural discrimination, and global health. 

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