Accepted paper:

Senegal's health data retention strike: performing global citizenship


Marlee Tichenor (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyzes the ramifications of a data retention strike begun in July 2010 on the part of Senegalese health workers. Looking particularly at the fight against malaria, it will attend to the blurriness between national and global political action in the health sector in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Paper long abstract:

In July 2010, two of Senegal's largest health worker unions (SUSTAS and SAS) launched a countrywide health data retention strike. As part of this strike, health workers on every level of the national program have withheld from the Senegalese Ministry of Health routine patient data, in order to move the government to meet their demands for better working conditions. As the workers have continued to provide health services, the government has managed to remain at a stalemate with the SUSTAS/SAS alliance for almost three years. This data strike illustrates the ways in which government health workers in Senegal engage in politics that are on a simultaneously national and global scale. The withheld health data has been thought to be critical for the advancement of the Senegalese health system on the part of international and private health partners, whether for evaluating existing programs or for implementing new ones, and may eventually impact the level of funding Senegal's health programs receive. Like many other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Senegal receives a large amount of external aid to support its health system; for example, the National Malaria Control Program receives 95% of its funds from external aid. I argue that, by participating in a data retention strike, government health workers are performing simultaneously their national citizenship and their citizenship to a distinctly global network of funders and non-governmental organizations in order to materially impact their daily lives.

panel P129
Health and governance in sub-Saharan Africa