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Our Story

Many digital health strategies are designed based on digital architecture that revolves around an underlying profit-driven digital framework, focusing on personal health metrics linked to individual device use. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the gap between consumer-centric digital health models and their effectiveness related to health behaviors and outcomes with economically insecure communities.


DHDI was established as a not for profit incubation space to investigate and develop alternatives that consider social and environmental impacts on community health, collaborating with communities, civil society, academics, and practitioners. Operating between academic and practice domains, DHDI was developed with a priority on driving an interdisciplinary agenda. 


DHDI Leadership

Founder & Executive Director 

Sonia Navani

Sonia Navani is a global health research scientist and civic tech innovator. Her work is grounded in 20+ years of implementation science and global health systems experience, with a focus on women's health outcomes in data scarce settings. Since 2013, Navani has focused her research and practice on digital health methodologies and decolonial data applications of technology as an organizing principle to shift long-standing power asymmetries in health systems for marginalized communities. 

Navani also serves as Senior Fellow at The Blum Center for Developing Economies at University of California, Berkeley, where she leads a community-centric approach to an edge deep learning model addressing nutrition security among severely food insecure women in climate-impacted areas. 

She has previously held positions with Columbia University, the International Rescue Committee, UNICEF, and UNFPA. Her work has been conducted in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Kenya, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Navani received her Doctorate of Public Health from UC Berkeley. 

DHDI Guiding Principles




How We Work

DHDI is designed to have a light footprint to accelerate innovation. We work as a nimble, distributed team with a priority on keeping our own overhead costs very low so we can maintain a primary focus on solving big problems with our community collaborators. 

Our dedicated interdisciplinary team is comprised of scholars, researchers, practitioners, and community-based partners. DHDI team members include staff, volunteers and advisors that currently reside in Africa, the Middle East, Australia, South America and North America. 

DHDI Board of Advisors

Dr. Esther Alenge
Indigenous Women's Health Practitioner
Sophie Read-Hamilton
Gender-based Violence Expert
Gina Lindo Montanez
Finance, Foreign Trade & Social Impact Expert 
Reem Abbasi
Nutrition Expert
Fadhili Kyabira Father
Engineer & Civil Society Leader
Jill Wertheim
Assessment & Evaluation Expert

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