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Towards Digital Justice: Participatory action research in global digital health

In April, BMJ published an article STOPAIDS collaborated on with the Digital Health and Rights consortium[1] outlining their project of developing participatory action research in global digital health.

COVID-19 has accelerated the financialisation of digital health and a deepening digital divide. Companies in high-income countries have benefitted during the Pandemic; Big Tech in high-income countries (HIC) mine health data in low-income and middle-income countries (LMIC), which has created new forms of extractive data colonialism.

The drive for more precise, granular health data risks exposing women and marginalised groups to discrimination and other harms. In the Global South, structural and systemic factors, such as racism, gender inequality, socioeconomic inequalities and lack of the underlying social determinants of health, affect access to smartphones, mobile data and internet, and thus health services and information. To address all these inequalities, we need new models of knowledge production that empower the public to advocate for rights-based digital governance.

This article explores how the participation of community-led and peer-led networks can play a key role in the transformation of digital health. It also points out how the HIV sector has offered rich lessons on how to build community power while elevating insights from the streets to the offices of decision- makers. Those lessons, grounded in lived experiences of discrimination, criminalisation and marginalisation, but also of transnational solidarity and empowerment, are urgently needed in the digital age.

Read the article here. 

Digital Health and Rights Project Consortium, Davis SLM. Towards digital justice: participatory action research in global digital health. BMJ Global Health 2022;7:e009351. doi:10.1136/ bmjgh-2022-009351

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[1]The Digital Health and Rights consortium is made up of the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) and its member networks; the Vietnam Network of People Living with HIV; the National Association of People Living with HIV in Ghana; the Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN); STOPAIDS in the UK as well as social scientists at the Graduate Institute Geneva and the University of Oslo.