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Accepted Paper:

Disease X and magic pills: an ethnographic analysis of the unintended consequences of pandemic preparedness and trachoma elimination  
Kelley Sams (University of Florida and Walden University)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper offers a critical perspective on the unintended consequences of Global Health activities through two examples: WHO's announcement of Disease X and the mass distribution of antibiotics as part of the Global Elimination of Trachoma program.

Paper Abstract:

As the messages and materials related to global health activities circulate, negotiations of meaning occur at their centers and margins. This paper uses ethnographic data collected through traditional in-person fieldwork and social media analysis online to examine the (mis) alignments between pandemic preparedness messages, neglected tropical disease elimination programs and the priorities of populations targeted by these global health activities.

I draw comparisons between messages shared on Twitter in reaction to the World Health Organization’s announcement of its addition of Disease X to the agency’s R&D Blueprint with the meaning-making that occurred in a Global Elimination of Trachoma target village in eastern Niger following an annual mass distribution round of antibiotics. Online discourse and in-person interviews reveal how inequities are highlighted through these actions and transformed into understandings of risk, power, and resistance. This paper offers a critical perspective on the unintended consequences of Global Health activities more broadly through these two examples, and recommends ways that medical anthropology can contribute to programs that better address the social and political aspects of infectious disease.

Panel P043
Challenging global health through a socio-anthropological lens [Medical Anthropology Europe (MAE)]
  Session 1 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -