International Day for People of African Descent

More than 200 million people in the Americas alone identify as being of African descent.  Millions more are located worldwide outside the African continent. Whether as descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, or as more recent migrants, they are among some of the poorest and most marginalized groups. Nonetheless, people of African descent are holders of a great multicultural richness, resilience and provide substantive contributions to every field of human endeavour, including health.

Last year, the United Nations marked the first-ever International Day for People of African Descent on 31 August 2021. This comes at the midpoint of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), which aims to celebrate the important contributions of people of African descent worldwide, advance social justice and inclusion policies, eradicate racism and intolerance, promote human rights, and assist in creating better, more prosperous communities, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals spearheaded by the United Nations.

In relation to health equity, people of African descent who face exclusion, racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance can have increased exposure and vulnerability to risk factors for ill-health, lesser access to quality health services, and worse health outcomes. This has been evidenced by COVID-19 pandemic, in which across the globe, some of the starkest inequities have been experienced by indigenous peoples as well as people of African descent and other ethnic minorities experiencing discrimination.

Webinar: “Advancing the Right to Health for People of African Descent”

A global webinar will be held on 31 August 2022 to:

  • Shed light on the injustices and systemic discrimination that people of African descent often face and its impact on health;
  • Describe how processes of “othering” influence the health of people of African descent;
  • Share knowledge and promising practices for advancing social justice, inclusion and participation of people of African descent in health policies, plans and programmes, as well as in intersectoral actions for health to address wider social and environmental determinants.


  • Princess Nothemba Simelela, Assistant Director-General for Strategic Priorities, World Health Organization


  • Carissa F. Etienne, World Health Organization Regional Director for the Americas
  • Miriam Ekiudoko, Member of the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent
  • John A. Powell, Director of the Othering & Belonging Institute at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Tlaleng Mofokeng, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Physical and Mental Health
  • David Williams, Department Chair Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The event will be open to the public, and interpretation will be provided in English, French and Spanish.

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