Racism, discrimination, and health:
a human rights-based approach

6 November 2023

10:00 - 16:30 CET

UN House & Online

Blvd. du Régent 37-40, 1000 Brussels

Racism and discrimination have a profound impact on people’s health and access to healthcare services; they are fundamental determinants of health. Although the evidence for the issue is becoming increasingly available, and despite states’ obligations to implement the Right to Health and eliminate all grounds for discrimination, as well as to establish monitoring frameworks with a human rights lens across public policies, European and national-level health and anti-racism policies have made little impact on the implementation of the Right to Health of racialised and ethnic communities.  

This event, co-organised by the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) aims to raise awareness on the impact of racism and discrimination on health outcomes. It brings together key stakeholders across sectors and policymakers across EU institutions to provide an overview of the concrete impacts of racism and discrimination on mental and physical health, citing the most recent research developments and the challenges faced at the national and European levels. What are concrete policy solutions to counteract these impacts? How can EU and national-level policymakers mainstream anti-racism in their work to encourage concrete actions against racism and discrimination in health? Join us for a conference to connect, learn, and collectively inspire meaningful change in health equity.  

Your presence makes a difference!   

Opening the dialogue: racism, discrimination and health equity

We welcome you to a promising day of discussions and meaningful contributions focused on the issues of racism, discrimination and their impacts on health. EPHA and OHCHR, the hosts of the event, open the dialogue, followed by a personal keynote address from MEP Samira Rafaela.

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Tamsin Rose

Facilitator and storyteller for positive change


Elena Kountouri Tapiero

Acting Regional Representative for Europe, OHCHR

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Milka Sokolović

Director General, EPHA


Samira Rafaela

MEP, Renew Europe (D66, the Netherlands)

Understanding racism, discrimination, and health: what does the science say?

The amount of evidence that establishes the link between racism, discrimination, and health is steadily increasing. Racism and discrimination are fundamental determinants of health, but what exactly does this concept mean? In this session, we explore the science and how these structural issues impact our health.

Luna Ali

Luna Ali

Policy Trainee, EPHA

6. abi deivanayagam

Abi Deivanayagam

Clinical Research Fellow, Institute for Global Health, UCL and Academic Clinical Fellow in Public Health, Lancaster University

From theory to practice: Exploring the local and national perspective

With a better understanding of the science behind racism, discrimination and health, we go from theory to practice. Racism and discrimination are deeply embedded in the structure of society, present at every level. In this session, we further our understanding by zooming in on the local and national levels in some EU Member States.

2. emilie bourgeat

Emilie Bourgeat

Project Manager, Défenseur des Droits

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Maricarmen Cortés

Fundación Secretariado Gitano

3. hans verrept

Hans Verrept

Head of the intercultural mediation and policy support unit, Belgian Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety, Environment 

Advancing health for all: European initiatives on racism, discrimination, and health

Addressing racism and discrimination at the national level is crucial, but a structural approach to tackling health inequities requires action at all levels. The EU has a variety of tools at its disposal to tackle racism and discrimination beyond the national level. In this session, we delve into such instruments, like the EU4Health programme and the EU Anti-racism action plan.

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Stefan Schreck

Adviser for Stakeholder relations, DG SANTE

4. michaela moua

Michaela Moua

EU Anti-Racism Coordinator, DG JUST

Hands-on approach to racism and discrimination: implementing the right to health

During the first half of the day, we explored racism and discrimination as fundamental determinants of health on different levels. Equipped with a grasp of the concepts, we can now shift our attention to potential policy solutions. In this session, we explore guidelines and international treaties, and how they can be used to implement the right to health.  


Mila Paspalanova

Anti-Racial Discrimination Advisor, OHCHR

Enabling the right to health: the role of civil society

Understanding the right to health is the first step to change, but we need to engage people to enable that change. With the DisQo stakeholder network, for the first time there is a dedicated civil society platform to raise the health voice in anti-racism and anti-discrimination. In this session, DisQo representatives help us deepen our understanding of the right to health.

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Raymond Gemen

Head of Policy, EPHA

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Denis Onyango

Director, Africa Advocacy Foundation

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Fatima Awil

Advocacy and Policy Officer, Mental Health Europe

jacqueline bowman

Jacqueline Bowman-Busato

Head of Policy, EASO

Implementation of the right to health: the WHO perspective

With different approaches to health across Europe, implementing the right to health can become quite complex. With different local and national contexts, a structural approach is the key to success. In this session, we learn from the WHO on the sensitivities of implementing the right to health in WHO member states.

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Rachel Hammonds

Senior Human Rights Advisor, WHO

Engaging for change: dialogue on anti-racism/-discrimination in health policy

Tackling health inequities requires tailored solutions to specific contexts at the local, national, or European level. Building on the learnings, insights and perspectives of the day, we will conclude with an engaging and interactive dialogue. During this session, we will jointly discuss racism, discrimination and health with the participants to identify structural policy solutions to tackle racial health inequities.

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Tamsin Rose

Facilitator and storyteller for positive change

11.rachel hammonds

Rachel Hammonds

Senior Human Rights Advisor, WHO


Mila Paspalanova

Anti-Racial Discrimination Advisor, OHCHR

Discussion & conclusion

  • Mila Paspalanova, Anti-Racial Discrimination Advisor, OHCHR 
  • Raymond Gemen, Head of Policy, EPHA 
  • Tamsin Rose, Facilitator and Storyteller for Positive Change  

Contact Us

Raymond Gemen
Head of Policy, EPHA

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