15 May 2018
Gimbel S, Chilundo B, Kenworthy N, Inguane C, Citrin D, Chapman R, et al. (2018). Donor data vacuuming: Audit culture and the use of data in global health partnerships. Med Anthropol Theory. 5(2), 79-99. doi: 10.17157/mat.5.2.537
In this essay, we seek to understand how the stunning rise of data vacuuming, necessitated by the pretense of ‘partnership’ within global health, has fundamentally altered how routine health data in poor countries is collected, analyzed, prioritized, and used to inform management and policy. Writing as a team of authors with experiences on multiple sides of global health partnerships in the United States, Mozambique, Nepal, Lesotho, Kenya, and Cote d’Ivoire, we argue that solidarity-based partnership between donor and recipient countries is impossible when evidence production and management is effectively outsourced to external organizations to meet the criteria of donor partners. Specifically, to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, equity-oriented strategies are critically needed to create data collection, analysis, and use activities that are mutually beneficial and sustainable.