Anthropology of health indicators and statistics

Sara Randall (UCL)
David Reubi
Start time:
10 September, 2015 at 11:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Indicators are essential for charting Global Health progress, highlighting deficiencies and guiding interventions. The panel seeks analyses of diverse dimensions of the social life of health numbers and how they (mis)represent the health, care and well-being of different populations.

Long abstract:

Indicators and measurements of Global Health are seen by many, especially those wielding political and economic power, as an essential dimension of charting progress and success and highlighting deficiencies in order to guide interventions. These numbers may have immense power in terms of directing resources and guiding action. Contributions to this panel use anthropological research and insights to examine different dimensions of these numbers and indicators. Some questions that are addressed include: why do some indicators get selected over others and what are the implications of these choices at local, national or global levels? Do indicators actually measure what they purport to measure and how can we study and understand what is really happening? In what ways and in what contexts do certain indicators distort the reality experienced by those who are supposedly being measured? Through what pathways and why are the experiences of particular categories of people excluded from the statistics? What are the implications of exclusion for well-being and health? What does the statistical paradigm of comparability mean when we look at local experience? How does the hegemony of indicators influence the diverse ways that service providers interact with their target populations and sick patients? the contributions analyse diverse dimensions of the social life of health numbers and the ways in which these numbers can, or fail to, represent the health situation of different populations and their relationships with health providers.