Professor Sarah Hodges, of the University of Warwick’s Department of History, has been shortlisted for the Best International Research Award at the forthcoming Arts and Humanities Research Council/Wellcome Medical Humanities Awards.
Professor Hodges’ research investigates how health policy impacts individual well-being across the global south—in particular, how policies designed to protect the health of the public often fail. Through decades of on-the-ground research, her research connects with people at the margins of health policy design and shines a light into the liminal spaces they inhabit. She shows how health policy, despite best intentions, often falls short of reaching its public.
Today, in her current project “What’s at stake in the fake?”, Professor Hodges studies the risks that the pharmaceutical global supply chain poses to far-flung communities. Along with her research team based in India and Africa, she examines how international drug safety mechanisms ignore the complex journeys that medicines undertake between leaving factory floors and finding ordinary consumers. Her team’s on-going research also points to how drug safety consumer education campaigns themselves may have left some of the most vulnerable even more at risk.
Professor Hodges’ recent biotrash research—on the economic afterlives of medical waste—saw her walk from hospital compounds to scrap yards and back again. This research exposed the practical effects of twenty-first century laws designed to protect communities from the potential infective risks of used, discarded medical waste. She found that current regulations fail to take into account the lived reality of waste on the ground. Namely, the role of urban scavengers who recover and reprocess much of global south cities’ medical waste.
By using the tools of the medical humanities to highlight hidden challenges that policy-makers often face, Professor Hodges joins them in the quest to improve global health.
Commenting on the shortlisting Professor Hodges said:
“I am delighted and honoured to be recognised alongside such innovative and inspiring scholars and research projects.
“In my research into global health across India and Africa, I seek to understand the everyday experiences of people who exist at the margins of health policy. Through my work with these groups, I have found that even the best-designed health policies can fall short of reaching parts of the public who need them most.
“This conundrum -- of how policies designed to protect the health of the public often fail—is what has drawn me to my research. Trying to understand this conundrum keeps me here and drives me to experiment with new forms of interdisciplinary, collaborative, and international research.
“By using the tools of the medical humanities to highlight hidden challenges that policymakers regularly face, I hope that my research can help key decision-makers in our shared quest to improve global health. “
6 November 2020
Tom Frew, Senior Press and Media Relations Manager – University of Warwick: