The Uncounted: Visibility and the Politics of Data in Global Health

October 3, 2016, 3:00pm - 4:30pm

The Kimmel Center for University Life, Room 907
60 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012

Map to Kimmel Center

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About the Talk

To manage billions in global aid and press UN member states to take action to meet the ambitious SDG 3 on health, UN agencies and donors rely on health data reported to them by countries. This data is not produced in a political vacuum. Sub-populations vulnerable to HIV and TB (such as gay men, people who inject drugs, sex workers, transgender people, sexual violence survivors, refugees and migrants, among others) are often hidden underground due to stigma and fear of law enforcement. Health data about these groups can be politically fraught: it is evidence of urgent needs of groups whose very existence may be publicly denied and denounced by the state. For these criminalized, stigmatized and marginalized sub-populations, the very fact of being studied can create heightened risks of violence and arrest. At the same time, an absence of health data almost always means that programs to serve their specific needs are neither planned nor funded. Thus, civil society groups often challenge national health data, with especially fierce and complex contests emerging in consultations with international donors. In the fight against TB, HIV and other health crises, data and the nature of evidence are emerging as a critical stake in the struggle. Drawing on field research with key populations groups, as well as her experience in global health financing mechanisms, Davis will explore issues in the contests over health data, visibility, and financial resources.

About the Speaker

IMG_1277Meg Davis divides her time between New York University School of Law’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, where she is a Scholar in Residence, and the Geneva Center for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action in Switzerland. She consults for UNAIDS, the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS TB and Malaria, the Global Philanthropy Project, and African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), among others. Davis was the first senior human rights advisor at The Global Fund, and has fifteen years of experience working on human rights and health in partnership with key populations and community-based organizations in Asia and Africa. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and her book, Song and Silence: Ethnic Revival on China’s Southwest Borders is in paperback from Columbia University Press.