MMI Policy Dialogue

The impact of digital technologies on healthcare and health can be beneficial, if both needs and risks are properly managed and if technologies are fully integrated in strong, people centred, rights-based and people owned healthcare systems. There are strong and convincing calls for addressing gaps in digital infrastructure as part of ensuring equitable access to healthcare. However, there are many pitfalls of digitalisation of healthcare such as further fragmentation of health systems and data extractivism (data colonialism), the  privatization of public services, the misuse of digital technologies by a surveillance state and the substitution of strong primary care based services on the ground, replacing trained health workers by digital tools.

With the Covid-19 pandemic further pushing towards digitalization of health care, civil society organizations have been proposing “an alternative digitalization of public health, beyond state control and corporate power”.

In all the debates on how to best use the power of digital technologies for the benefit of the people there is little attention on the role of international cooperation and global initiatives in a field that is indeed shaped by strong political and economic forces. As a participant in a recent workshop on health cooperation has put it: “To what extent are we honest and radical in our assessment of the political economy of digital health? We are not outside the system. We all take part in an industry.”

This session of the MMI policy dialogues 2021 allowed actors representing different realities and positions to assess the role of international cooperation and global initiatives in the field of digital health technologies from a civil society, primary health care, public health and decoloniality perspective.

Session documentation

Session overview

Speakers and presentations/inputs

  • Anita Gurumurthy, IT for Change
  • Derrick Muneere, World Health Organization
  • Godelieve van Heteren, senior international consultant
  • Junho Jung, People’s Health Movement
  • Lucy Fagan, Young Experts: Tech 4 Health, Transform Health Coalition
  • Martin Leschhorn, Medicus Mundi Switzerland
  • Meg Davis, Global Health Centre, The Graduate Institute
  • Nerima Were, KELIN
  • Tabitha Ha, STOPAIDS
  • Thomas Schwarz, MMI Network

Inputs: see Session recording

Session contacts

Emerging MMI community of practice and reflection

References and resources
…as shared by participants

Source: Meeting chat
Feel free to contribute further references and resources to this collection

MMI Policy Dialogues 2021

Monday, 14 June 2021, 14-16 hrs CEST
Business? As usual? Looking into the political economy
of digital health and international cooperation

Tuesday, 15 June 2021, 14-16 hrs CEST
Promote civic space at the WHO and other UN bodies and agencies
…and defend democratic multilateralism

Wednesday, 16 June 2021, 14.30-16.30 hrs CEST
Health systems torn between health security and universal access priorities
– implications for international cooperation?

Thursday, 17 June 2021, 14-16 hrs CEST
Health and climate justice: Transformative cooperation and healthcare practice

Overview: here