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What does ‘Decolonisation’ look like in animal health?

January 13 @ 1:00 pm - 2:15 pm

Watch a video of the event here

Why do we need to ‘decolonise’ work in animal health?

There have been numerous conversations about ‘decolonisation’ in global health and international development, but these conversations are only just beginning within the veterinary sector. There are many ways in which the veterinary sector needs to consider decolonisation. This event will focus on how the relationship between vets / animal health professionals in the global north and the global south has been impacted by colonialism and the impact this has on animal health and disease. We will discuss the predominance of de-localised agenda setting for animal health initiative, whereby veterinary decision-makers in the global south dictate how animal industries should operate in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin Americas. This is commonly along geographical axes that mirror paths of colonialism.. Even when these agendas take into account aspects of the local context, they are almost always founded on the patriarchal assumption that the policy makers know what is best for that setting. This results in embedded inequities within the sector, which includes  “parachute” and “parasitic” research, where researchers are able to extract research-related data and labour from a country and use that to advance their own agendas and careers, limiting the opportunities for countries to benefit equally.

The lucrative overseas veterinary ‘volunteer industry’ propagates the narrative that those volunteering, and by extension veterinary work in their home countries, are both superior and necessary, meaning that local animal healthcare providers are rarely, if ever acknowledged as professional equals.

Over the past year, LIDC has held a number of events with our members and collaborators on themes within the ‘decolonisation’ rubric. 457 people registered for a day-long event with member institutions (SOAS, LSHTM, Birkbeck’s Geography Dept & UCL-IOE) and guest speakers. We also held an event featuring Heidi Downes (QMUL) & Neomi Bennett BEM  exploring ‘decolonising medicine’ and on 8 November we discussed ‘decolonising history’ with AFFORD-UK, the University of Ghana, Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum & UCL. (Recordings of these events can be accessed via our website). We are grateful to colleagues in our member organisations, particularly the Royal Veterinary College and The Brooke NGO for pointing out the many ways in which the veterinary sector needs to consider its place in discussions around decolonisation, and look forward to hosting this joint event with them.

Event Moderator:

Dr Christine Thuranira-McKeever  is Director of Distance Learning at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC). She teaches a number of courses as well as bearing academic responsibility for distance programmes. Christine is also Chair of the RVC’s Equality and Diversity Committee, responsible for strategic direction and leadership of the College’s equality, diversity and inclusion agenda. Her background  is in agricultural economics and she has worked in international development, a field in which she maintains an active interest. Her research work has included market access, international trade in primary products and the effects of agricultural and animal health policy on livelihoods of smallholder farmers in ‘developing’ economies. Her research interests include learning design for courses. Chistine is very committed to international institutional partnerships to support distance learning students, particularly those from low income countries. She’s also a Commissioner of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission.


Dr Musa Mulongo is Senior Scientist and Program Coordinator for Transforming Animal Health Solutions and Services (TAHSSL), a joint initiative of International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), GALVmed and Clinglobal. Previously, Musa was a Senior Program Specialalist with the multi-donor Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund (LVIF) at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa Canada, with  responsibility for the technical management and administration of a multi-million-dollar portfolio of cutting-edge vaccine discovery and development projects with multiple international partnerships. Musa completed two post-doctoral research fellowships focusing on livestock vaccine development and mucosal immune responses to oral vaccines in malnourished children in poor settings with high infectious disease burdens. These were undertaken at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) in Saskatchewan, Canada and the Wellcome Trust Research Program in Kilifi, Kenya, respectively. He holds a PhD in Immunology & Vaccine Development from the Royal Veterinary College of the University of London (UK) and a Master of Science  in Immunology from Kenyatta University in Kenya.

 Dr Alex Tasker is a vet and lecturer in Human Ecology at UCL. His primary research focuses on the ways culture, society, environment, and biology interact to shape human and animal health for people living at the margins of state control, particularly issues of inequality, power, and participation. Alex currently splits his time between research and lecturing at UCL, and his secondment to the Cabinet Office as an Embedded Scientist in the UK COVID Task Force.

Find a video of the event here

Featured photo: Freya Dowson/The Brooke

Article photo: Monthaye/Unsplash

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Photo of Kenyan women & cattle, by Freya Dowson, The Brooke NGO

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