The global South deserves respect—and support

The scientific and political elite have long assumed that the global North is the best place to develop solutions for challenges in Africa, South Asia, and Latin America.

In an era of overwhelming global challenges, the worlds of science and public health can no longer afford this arrogance.

People in the global North must stop ignoring, marginalizing, and patronizing the global South.

Top-down biases have blinded much of the high-income countries to the enormous reserves of talent and ideas in low- and middle-income nations. Time and again, pioneers in the global South have made crucial scientific discoveries, ranging from breakthrough research on Burkitt lymphoma to groundbreaking work on HIV treatment and prevention to the first sequencing of the Omicron variant, yet their contributions are often discounted. It’s past time to reverse this paradigm.

In an era of global challenges, respectful, balanced global collaborations matter. It is essential that high-income nations accelerate building scientific infrastructure and capacity in low- and middle-income nations while also embracing the big thinking and bold innovation that exists within them.

Fortunately, there is movement in this direction.

To learn how a handful of visionaries are beginning to shift harmful and outdated stereotypes, please read my latest op/ed in STAT, written with Muhammad Ali Pate, a former health minister of Nigeria, former global director at the World Bank, and the Harvard Chan School’s Julio Frenk Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership.