Tag Archives: human rights

Digital health & rights: New research report & policy brief

Scene from an outdoor restaurant, young girl with lap top.

We were thrilled to launch our final research report on digital health and human rights of young adults, based on 18 months of research with 174 young adults and 33 experts in Ghana, Kenya and Vietnam, policy brief based on the research, and a new working paper based on the second phase of the study in Bangladesh and Colombia.

In Ghana, Kenya and Vietnam, we found many young adults used web platforms (such as Google), social media platforms (such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube), and social chat (such as WhatsApp, Zalo) to get health information, advice and peer support on sexual and reproductive health, HIV and Covid-19. The platforms brought clear benefits to young people, but also risks of censorship, abuse, stalking and other harms. These issues were largely not addressed by national laws and policies, and by global digital health policies such as the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020-2025.

The research was conducted using mixed qualitative methods and a transnational participatory action research approach in which communities of people living with HIV, as well as national civil society groups and human rights lawyers in Ghana, Kenya and Vietnam, participated in design of the study, data-gathering, analysis, and validation of the final results and recommendations. Our policy recommendations are outlined in a policy brief in English and Spanish.

We raised these concerns in an open letter to the director-general of WHO, Dr. Tedros, calling on WHO and other global health agencies to take action to protect young people from risks of harm when they seek health information online.

The study in Ghana, Kenya and Vietnam concludes the first phase of a multi-country study. The study continues in Bangladesh and Colombia, conducted in collaboration with social scientists at BRAC University and Universidad de los Andes, as well as civil society groups in both countries. The two universities also published their working paper based on desk review of laws and policies governing digital health in both countries, Digital Health and Rights in Bangladesh and Colombia.

We discussed the findings with researchers, social media influencers, health NGOs and an expert on sexual and reproductive health from WHO in a webinar, and the slides are below:

Enter the Cyborgs: Health & human rights in the digital age

It was a pleasure to co-edit this special section of the Health and Human Rights Journal with Carmel Williams on “Big Data, Technology, Artificial Intelligence and the Right to Health”. It gathers a diverse group of anthropologists, human rights lawyers, tech researchers, rights activists, and UN policy officials to explore early thinking on this rapidly emerging field.

As Carmel and I wrote in our editorial, COVID-19 has forced many of us into a strange new intimacy with our phones and laptops: those of us in the elite with the privilege to work from home have virtually melded with our machines. Personally, I don’t think I’ve been farther than one room’s length from my smartphone since March 2020. So if we are now basically cyborgs…living “on the boundary between fact and fiction” (Haraway 1995), what use are 20th century human rights?

A bunch of smart people tackled this and other questions, ranging from the rights of children in the digital age, to the role of tech in human rights investigations, to the role of the private sector and UN agencies, to the possibilities for new forms of civil society and community engagement in the digital space. The issue is available for free download here.

Kene Esom, policy officer, UNDP

Right On 5: Why are we failing to end AIDS? Engaging with the politics of data

This fifth episode of the Right On Podcast, recorded for the American Anthropological Association annual conference, brings together co-hosts Meg Davis and Ryan Whitacre with medical anthropologist Prof. Cal Biruk and UN Development Programme policy officer Kenechukwu Esom to explore how human rights and quantification collide in the global HIV response.

Right On 4: Meet the speakers

For this episode, I reached out to two good friends who are wonderful data nerds and activists, Shirin Heidari and Marina Smelyanskaya, to talk about gender, inequality and data. When I invited Malu Marin, a longtime activist for the rights of migrant workers in Asia, she urged me to talk to her friend Jolovan Wham instead – “a very committed activist working directly with migrant workers”. Jolovan has come under more than his fair share of pressure for his advocacy for free speech – so especially grateful to him for his time, and to all three of this episode’s experts. Continue reading

Right On 4: Who will be left uncounted in data on COVID-19?

How are inequality and discrimination shaping data about COVID-19, and who is being left invisible and uncounted? On the launch of her new book on data and human rights, Sara (Meg) Davis speaks to social worker and rights activist Jolovan Wham in Singapore, who describes how thousands of migrant workers are being detained in overcrowded dorms, and were missed by the official mobile contact tracing app. In Geneva, Dr. Shirin Heidari (GENDRO) and Marina Smelyanskaya (Stop TB Partnership) address the global need for feminist principles and respect for human rights to gather data on COVID-19. Davis’ new book, The Uncounted: Politics of Data in Global Health is available from Cambridge University Press.

Book launch: The Uncounted, June 11th

IMG_3912 I can’t quite believe this is finally happening, but…my new book, The Uncounted: Politics of Data in Global Health, will launch with a virtual conversation between me and Ryan Whitacre on Thursday, June 11th, from 16:00 – 17:00 CET. The webinar is co-sponsored by the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute; GENDRO; and the Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action.

Register here to get the Zoom link, and you can order the hardcover and ebook here — a more affordable paperback will be out in a few months.

 

Right On Podcast 3: About the speakers

We meet four inspiring women in Right On Podcast 3: Is violence against women (including trans women) on the rise? — speaking to you from Kenya to Bangkok to New York City. Here’s a bit more about them and their work. The conversation was hosted by Meg Davis in Geneva. Continue reading

Right On Podcast 3: Is violence against women (including trans women) on the rise?

Christine Alai PIC Kaplan Margaret Prem Pramoj

Tina Alai (Kenyan human rights lawyer), Karyn Kaplan (Asia Catalyst), Margaret Mbira Omondi (Women Concerns Center, Kenya) and Prem Pramoj Na Ayutthaya (Rainbow Sky Association, Thailand) meet online to compare notes on how COVID-19 is fueling violence against women, from girls in evacuation camps in rural Kisumu, Kenya, to transgender women isolated in lockdown in urban Bangkok, Thailand. They found some surprising commonalities. Community-based activists and human rights advocates like themselves are putting marginalized communities at the center of their work, and finding ways to work together, using international human rights standards, to find a way out of this crisis.

Is civic space closing in global health?

With restrictions in many countries on nongovernmental organizations, and sweeping new laws coming into play in response to COVID-19, is space closing for civil society, journalists and other whistleblowers in global health? Leading international activists and journalists debated this question from national and international perspectives, on 19 May 2020, as part of the Graduate Institute’s 73rd World Health Assembly week. Co-organised by the Global Health Centre, STOPAIDS and Medicus Mundi International.

SPEAKERS

  • Gargeya Telakapalli, Research Associate, People’s Health Movement
  • Mercy Korir, Medical Doctor; Journalist, KTN News, Kenya
  • Mike Podmore, Executive Director, STOPAIDS; Chair, Action for Global Health
  • Nadejda Dermendjieva, Executive Director, Bulgarian Fund for Women
  • Thomas Schwarz, Executive Secretary, Medicus Mundi International
  • Moderated by Meg Davis, Special Advisor, Strategy and Partnerships, Global Health Centre