The Anthropology of Health Indicators and Statistics

Indicators and metrics are essential for identifying global health priorities, highlighting deficiencies and guiding interventions. As part of this year’s Annual Conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists at the University of Sussex, Professor Sara Randall (UCL) chaired a series of panels to analyse the genealogies and social lives of numbers and counting practices that dominate global health today, asking how they represent and misrepresent the health, care and well-being of different populations. Panelists included: Rene Gerrets (University of Amsterdam) who spoke on ‘Health Facility Data Production on ‘Malaria’ in Rural Tanzania: Exploring the Clay Feet of Indicators as Tools of Global Health Governance’; Gideon Lasco (University of Amsterdam) who presented a paper on ‘Inequalities of Height or the Height of Inequality? Children’s Growth Charts and the Meanings of Height in the Philippines’; Kapil Babu Dahal (Tribhuvan University) and Ian Harper (University of Edinburgh) who spoke on ‘Metrics and Health Systems: The Global Fund in Nepal’; Katerini Storeng (University of Oslo) who presented a paper on ‘The Power and Perils of ‘Hard’ Indicators in Global Maternal Health Research’; and David Reubi (King’s College London) who spoke on ‘A Genealogy of Epidemiological Reason: Biopolitics, Surveillance and Global Health’.