Metrics: What Counts in Global Health
This chapter explores how humanitarianism takes up and is restructured by the demand for metrics in the context of global health, using the experiences of Hesperian Health Guides and their landmark publication, Where There Is No Doctor, as a case study. As global health funders ask for more numbers, they shape the kinds of work that nonprofits do and the services and resources that are provided to communities. Taking into account the aspirations of those who use scientific methods to improve the lives of suffering people, this chapter explores where these aspirations are undermined by the fact that only knowledge produced within a scientific discourse is counted as valid. Global health metrics, implemented through humanitarian means, produce valuable information and solutions. But when they are assumed to be more valuable than the knowledge that people have about their own lives and conditions, they obscure something much more important.