Outcomes from the conference #Tek4HealthEquity

In November 2019, we invited researchers from all over the world to meet in New York City for the conference #Tek4HealthEquity: "The Political Origins of Health Inequities: Technologies in the Digital Age".

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About the Conference

Emerging technologies in the realms of artificial intelligence or digital worlds have a considerable transformative potential to address global health problems. However, these innovations are not neutral in their social impacts and raise a number of challenges, including reproducing and deepening inequalities. Whether technological innovations produce opportunities or constraints depends fundamentally on what technology is developed, for whom, by whom, and for what purposes.

This conference seeks to examine the global governance challenges to harness digital innovation for the public good, avoid harmful consequences and address the political origins of health inequity.

See the full programme

Video address

  • Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (video message), Director General, World Health Organization


  • Mary Watson, Executive Dean, The New School 
  • Katerini Storeng, Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo


Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty; NYU School of Law


Session 1: Round table on key themes of the conference

Chaired by Sakiko Fukuda-Parr

  • Manjari Mahajan, The New School, Politics of knowledge production in the digital age
  • Mickey Chopra, The World Bank, Risk and reward: Weighing up the potential of digital health for the poorest in low and middle income countries

Discussant: Antoine de Bengy Puyvallée, University of Oslo

Session 2: Artificial Intelligence as a social practice: Ideology, ethics and human rights

Chaired by Desmond McNeill, University of Oslo

  • Xi Lin, Fudan University, Re/producing inequality in healthcare: How does AI create and consolidate health inequity?
  • Elizabeth Gibbons, Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, AI and human rights: An introduction to IEEE’s ethically aligned design
  • Kadija Ferryman, NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Ethics and policy in precision medicine

Session 3: Digital technology and technology for the poor: infrastructure, access, inequality

Chaired by Anne-Emanuelle Birn, University of Toronto

  • Marine Al Dahdah, CNRS - CEMS, Paris, From Ghana to Bihar:Saving the Global South’s mothers with a digital empire
  • Rajiv K. Mishra, Jawaharlal Nehru University, The appropriated body: Biometrics regime, the digital state and healthcare in contemporary India
  • Nora Kenworthy, University of Washington Bothell, When platforms for the poor are not pro-poor platforms: Crowdfunding and technological determinants of health

Discussant: Jashodhara Dasgupta, National Foundation for India

Session 4: Data & knowledge: ownership, gathering, treatment and use of data, market expansion and commercialization

Chaired by Katerini Storeng, University of Oslo

  • Susan Erikson, Simon Fraser University, Righteous Use? Why big data scientists demanded private cell phone data during the West African ebola pandemic
  • Mary F.E. Ebeling, Drexel University, Tapping the lakes, mining the oceans: Private accumulation through public dispossession
  • Sridhar Venkatapuram, King’s College London, The fairness of changing human destinies using data

Discussant: Sonja Kittelsen, University of Oslo

Session 5: Financing new technologies - actors, geographies, financialization of global health



Chaired by Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Khazanah Research Institute


  • Megan Zweig, Rock Health, A market update on digital health
  • Susan K. Sell, Australian National University, The financialization of health and the financing of new technologies

Discussant: Ayanda Ntsaluba, Discovery Holdings

Session 6: Governance: public goods and private ownership, regulation and incentives, international cooperation and solidarity

Chaired by Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, The New School

  • Peter Asaro, The New School, Governing AI : Critical assessment of current initiatives and gaps
  • Elizabeth Kaziunas, AI Now, New York University, Governing AI and health equity: Initiatives and challenges
  • Padmashree Gehl Sampath, Harvard University, AI and big data issues in low-income countries
  • Christiaan van Veen, NYU School of Law, The law and human rights void in global and domestic debates

Closing remarks

Chaired by Katerini Storeng, University of Oslo

  • Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Khazanah Research Institute
  • Kelley Lee, Simon Fraser University
  • Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director of the Health Group, UNDP Bureau
    for Policy and Programme Support
Published Nov. 13, 2019 2:55 PM - Last modified Jan. 6, 2020 3:07 PM