A democracy deficit in digital health?

PERCo_CL15_biometric_controllerFrom Health and Human Rights, January 16, 2020

By Sara L. M. Davis, Kenechukwu Esom, Rico Gustav, Allan Maleche, and Mike Podmore

In 1994, when Health and Human Rights was launched by editor Jonathan Mann, it appeared-in print-in a very different world: one in which the internet had just been created, and could only be accessed through dial-up telephone lines paid for by the minute; cell phones were heavy, clunky, and unaffordable for most. Our thinking about health and human rights, formed before the digital age, must now advance to keep pace with its new risks and opportunities. Continue reading

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Last Stage of the Winter Road: Tromsø to Kuusamo

As the dog sled slashed across deep snow, young Inuit men and women raced alongside, jumping on and off the sleds, hooting and laughing, teasing one another in the blinding white plain. I watched from beside a wood fire, and wondered: aren’t they COLD? They were on a screen in the town square of Tromsø, Norway, a glowing town above the Arctic Circle. This Inuit-directed film, “One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk”, was opening the Tromsø International Film Festival. Standing in a light snowfall before that screen, hot coffee cup in hand, I began to sense the cleansing power of snow and fire. Continue reading

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Winter Road: Solo female traveler of a certain age

“It’s medicinal!” said the young gold-haired woman working the bar in an 800-year-old cavern. Pulling out a case with heavy goblets lying on blue velvet, she poured out shots of a thick, dark liqueur. The goblet was cool and heavy in the hand, and the liqueur tasted of berries, seeds and winter night. Welcome to Riga: fourth stop on the road from London to Finland.

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Winter Road: Rotterdam to Vilnius

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Moving across the northern coast of Europe in winter, some evil old ghosts rise up from the frost-blasted landscape – but also new art, music, and the first sparks of the new year.

My ship from England lands in Rotterdam at the end of December. I roam around new architecture in the old working sea port. A sweep of new bridges tower over Hotel New York, where thousands of Dutch immigrants once set sail for New York. In World War Two, the Nazis razed Rotterdam. Today, spiky new buildings sprout up, preening over empty streets.

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The Winter Road: Harwich to Hook of Holland

IMG_7983I’m typing this seated by a floor-to-ceiling porthole on the Stena Brittanica ship. Outside it’s dark, yellow and red lights scattered across a vast blackness. Inside, it’s all fake wood paneling, 60s-style swivel chairs, a pulsing TV screen, and a sea of cheerful, mostly white, Netherlands families playing board games, the click of dice. We’re sailing from Harwich, England to Hoek van Holland, the port near Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Check-in took just a few minutes, because tonight the UK still belongs to Europe.

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Questions to ask about indicators in global health meetings

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Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

I just turned in my book manuscript, The Uncounted: Politics of Data in Global Health to the publisher this week. It will come out in mid-2020, if all goes well.

Meanwhile, here’s something I’ve been playing with: questions to ask if you’re in a global health meeting and confronting a slide presentation with indicators, targets and models.

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Video of panel discussion: Access to justice and sexual violence

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(L-R) Meg Davis (CERAH), Cecile Aptel (IFRC), Claude Maon (MSF), Christine Alai. Photo © Cecily Weeks 2019

It was an honor to moderate the panel discussion, “Justice denied? Access to justice for victims of sexual violence” for an audience of over 200 at ICRC’s Humanitarium on September 11, 2019. Continue reading

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UK politics explained, with Pooh and Piglet

Epping_Forest_High_Beach_Essex_England_-_spring_pond_05A quick update here from Norwich, where I’m visiting for the Association of Social Anthropologists meeting. More about that later. Meanwhile, my attempt to understand what’s happening in London, using children’s literature. Continue reading

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Justice denied? Access to justice for victims of sexual violence

V-P-CD-E-01549.JPGIt’s really an honor to moderate this upcoming panel discussion: Justice denied? Access to justice for victims of sexual violence on September 11, 2019 at the ICRC Humanitarium. The event is free and open to all. Continue reading

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Detention of Cheng Yuan: Background & update

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Cheng Yuan and Shi Minglei

No response yet from China or UNAIDS to the letter signed by 200 individuals and organizations nearly 3 weeks ago about Chinese anti-discrimination activist Cheng Yuan and his two colleagues, the Changsha Three.

Here’s an overview to his impressive career and an update on retaliation against his wife and brother, who have raised public concerns about his detention. I’ve met Cheng Yuan in China, and know him personally as a quiet, sober civil rights activist; not someone who goes to international meetings or works with international organizations much, just a local rights lawyer who put his head down, tirelessly filing case after case on behalf of China’s most marginalized people. [A huge thank you to fellow volunteers Gisa Dang, Lu Jun, and Yang Zhanqing, who contributed research and links.] Continue reading

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