Medical Data Studies in Humanitarian Action (MDaSH) project

Healthcare data and technologies – such as digital mapping or biometric patient records – promise great advances to help people in humanitarian emergencies. But these technologies are double-edged. Each development produces unanticipated consequences, some benign and others negative.

An image representing gigital healthcare around the world

In 2020, Larissa Fast (HCRI) and Darryl Stellmach (University of Tasmania, formerly with Medecins Sans Frontieres) created the Medical Data Studies in Humanitarianism (MDaSH) network. Comprised of practitioners and academics, the group focused on taking stock of existing research and practice in this area in order to advance an interdisciplinary research and action agenda. Funding for the network, including a symposium, was provided by the Wellcome Trust.

In November 2021, the MDaSH network convened a two-day hybrid conference. Approximately 25 people participated, both virtually and in-person in Manchester, in four panels and one public webinar. The panels proposed theoretical frames for analysing humanitarian health data technologies, drawing from institutionalist and postcolonial studies. They also addressed debates on managing mis/dis-information in humanitarian health programming, and on handling data from children specifically and during project closure. The public webinar provided key insights into the risks posed by state surveillance and other forms of data breach for humanitarian action.

More information about the symposium, including two videos of the highlights, can be found below.


    We also anticipate publishing selected papers from the symposium in a special issue, expected in 2023, and will update this website with a link when this is available.

    We thank the Wellcome Trust for their generous funding and support.