Governing digital health for infectious disease outbreaks
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionRoberts, S. & Kelman, I. (2023). Governing digital health for infectious disease outbreaks. Global Public Health, 18 (1). https://doi.org/10.1080/17441692.2023.2241894
How can governing digital health for infectious disease outbreaks be enhanced? In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has simultaneously represented both the potential and marked limitations of digital health practices for infectious disease outbreaks. During the pandemic’s initial stages, states along with Big Data and Big Tech actors unleashed a scope of both established and experimental digital technologies for tracking infections, hospitalisations, and deaths from COVID-19 – and sometimes exposure to the virus SARS-CoV-2. Despite the proliferation of these technologies at the global level, transnational and cross-border integration, and cooperation within digital health responses to COVID-19 often faltered, while digital health regulations were fragmented, contested, and uncoordinated. This article presents a critiquing reflection of approaches to conceptualising, understanding, and implementing digital health for infectious disease outbreaks, observed from COVID-19 and previous examples. In assessing the strengths and limitations of existing practices of governing digital health for infectious disease outbreaks, this article particularly examines ‘informal’ digital health to build upon and consider how digitised responses to addressing and governing infectious disease outbreaks may be reconceptualised, revisited, or revised.