Following the refusal of visas to over a dozen speakers and delegates who wanted to attend a conference in London this week, the head of a research institute in London has threatened to move his academic meetings to outside of the UK.
The director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Peter Piot, wrote a letter to Sajid Javid, Britain’s home secretary, where he expressed his profound concern about the rejections and the method of visa processing.
The president of the Royal Society, Venki Ramakrishnan, also lent voice to the matter, saying that the scientific community in Britain had become worried that the new trend of visa refusals would jeopardize the chances of the UK becoming a hub for global science once Brexit was concluded.
There was a minimum of 17 academics whose visas were refused to attend the second edition of the London school’s annual conference on Women leaders in health leadership. Majority of those who were denied visas were from Sub-Saharan Africa, while others were from Asia.
The conference, which will be discussing the issue of gender inequality in global health leadership will have more than 900 participants in attendance. Among these delegates, are people from over 70 countries and 80 nationalities.
The conference will be deliberating on the global issue of women occupying only 25% of powerful leadership positions, the fact that women make up 75% of the workforce in the health industry, notwithstanding.
Piot in his letter wrote that the essence of the conference was to encourage international debate and groom new talents.
Is the UK shooting itself?
He went further to remark that the refusal of these visas, not only denied experts and budding experts as well who are from low and middle-income countries from taking part and contributing their bit in these global health dialogues but it also denies the UK the benefits of the knowledge exchange.
He disclosed that the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine was already contemplating on moving several of their big international meetings to other countries to enable experts from all over the globe to attend with ease.
Last month too, the World Health Organisation, WHO for short, voiced its concerns as well concerning the same issue when the UK refused academics visas to enter the country.
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