Projets de recherche

Triage & Neglected Spaces of Care: Diabetes in Guinea

Principal investigator: Dr Veronica Gomez-Temesio

SNF Ambizione grant PZ00P1_193339

Global Health, or the existing global will to implement programs funded from the Global North to sustain the health of people living in the Global South – has the power to decide which diseases are to be mapped as international priorities. Building on this, the research project investigates the following research question: how Global Health policies of triage – the political prioritization of different diseases – determines a politics of life and death in the African region. Because Global Health policies and practices have focused on security, most donor health programs currently target infectious diseases as a way of protecting the lives of people in high-income countries. Due to aid dependency, in African countries, Global Health shapes a politics of life that structures an unequal right to health: the lives of different groups of people are given different value. While some lives are cared for, some are discarded as not valuable enough. Until recently, diabetes was considered as a disease exclusive to prosperous countries. Nevertheless, it is Africa that is experiencing the highest increase in diabetes prevalence. Because diabetes is not targeted as a priority by international donors, its treatments remain largely unaffordable for African patients. Social sciences literature has focused mainly on how people suffering from infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS in the Global South were able to become “biological citizens” and gain rights through their connection to donor-funded programs. The overall objective of the project is to illuminate an almost invisible corner of the literature by exploring how the (non-)treatment of diabetes actually reinforces social and political inequalities in healthcare in the Global South.

This research project is currently implemented in Guinea through 3 work packages (WPs) with their respective research questions.

WP1 State and Neglected Spaces of Care consists of qualitative research studying Guinean public health institutions in the context of dependence on foreign aid.

WP2 Care Provision and the City investigates struggles for biological survival through territories of care inside Conakry, the capital of Guinea.

WP3 Biological Citizenship and Political Recognition addresses people living with strong disabilities and how they can regain – or fail to gain – social and political recognition as a result of their biological condition.

Methodologically, the research is carried out through an ethnographic approach using participant observation and semi-structured interviews. The research applies also qualitative tools in collaboration with public health specialists and geographers.

The project is carried out in partnership with the Centre de recherche et de formation en infectiologie de Guinée (CERFIG).