How DHDI Works
We are a virtual global health network actively cultivating decolonized global health partnerships.
DHDI was founded on the belief that optimization in any health or humanitarian emergency comes from authentic, equitable cross-cultural partnerships. But, years in the field have shown us that, even with good intentions, conventional aid organizational structures contribute to hierarchical partnerships.
DHDI consciously eschews key elements contributing to imbalances in partnership power dynamics:
Creating a long-term presence or need for DHDI in resource-limited settings.
Building national but not local expertise in the most marginalized communities.
Acting as a default funding channel between donors and grassroots organizations.
DHDI asserts that the answer is not for the global community to cut and run-- creating deeper inequity. Instead, DHDI aims to redefine equitable working partnerships between global & local health actors as well as between communities themselves and global/local health actors.
DHDI works alongside grassroots organizations to expand locally defined digital health footprints. We do this as a lean, virtual network to scaffold movements within communities, not people or individual organizations.
By creating community consortiums of actors, our aim is to create a culture of open access to high-quality health information translated into local terms for everyone in a community.
DHDI Guiding Principles for Action
DisrupT digital spaces
DecolonizE digital spaces
DemocratizE digital spaces
Decades of evidence-based reviews show remarkable successes when it comes to technology improving health systems and research. But, it consistently fails to show digital health as an effective catalyst for health prevention among users.
There is little incentive to disrupt the existing market-driven digital health information ecosystem, given that those communities and issues most marginalized are also the least profitable.
DHDI's work revolves around creating and supporting new visions for digital public health designed for better health outcomes instead of profit.
Digital spaces are replicating-- instead of upending-- health disparities based on social & economic hierarchies.
Truly optimizing digital spaces for everyone requires confronting key tensions between top down information approaches and personal agency in digital spaces at both individual and community levels and with a sharp focus on long standing power dynamics related to knowledge creation as well as dissemination.
DHDI views this as a lynchpin to a modern vision of decolonialized global health.
Most digital health strategies to date have focused on stemming the tide of online misinformation from private industry. But, paradoxically, public health digital information strategies continue to be largely rooted in a pre-Internet information scarce era strategies. This misalignment disproportionately effects those at the margins.
DHDI focus on the vacuums that misinformation is filling via greater innovation for more responsive public health models for digital spaces.
DHDI Founder, Sonia Navani, MPH, DrPH, has spent the last 20 years working on gender, health & human rights issues. She has worked with communities affected by armed conflict and forced migration in over 15 countries throughout Africa, Asia & the Middle East with donor, UN, INGO, and local entities. Since 2012, Dr. Navani has focused her work on digital public health initiatives in resource-constrained settings.