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Silhouettes on urban street.

In 2022, the Oxford-Johns Hopkins Global Infectious Disease Ethics Collaborative (GLIDE), in association with Epidemic Ethics, organised a forum examining invisibility across a variety of global health contexts.

The aim was to gain diverse perspectives to shift attention from the question of ‘What is invisibility?’ to ‘How is invisibility made and unmade in practice?’ and ‘How should ideas of invisibility be addressed in policy?’

The forum contributors have published a letter on Wellcome Open Research reflecting on the invisibility case studies included in the forum: Invisibility in global health: A case for disturbing bioethical frameworks

Highlighting the complex nature of invisibility and its interconnectedness with social, political and economic issues and trends, the letter argues that while local and targeted interventions might provide relief and comfort locally, they will not be able to solve the underlying causes of invisibility.

Moving forward, the authors propose a distinction between ‘disturbing’ and ‘comforting’ global bioethics as an analytical lens for engaging with invisibility, and suggest funders and institutions should:

  • Increase the funding of studies of invisibility in various global health contexts to gain a better understanding of the problem.
  • Establish local bottom-up collaborative partnerships to empower invisible communities and address invisible problems.
  • Collect qualitative, quantitative or mixed-methods data and prepare it for evidence-based policymaking, with the goal of reaching national and international regulators.
  • Perform stakeholder analysis, review gaps in evidence.
  • Politicize the emergence of global health invisibility and oppose the depoliticized operationalization of the term, further linking it with the notions of coloniality, precarity and neoliberalization.
  • Acknowledge that intersectional issues cannot be easily resolved by the vertical approaches that currently dominate the landscape of contemporary global health and applied global health bioethics.
  • Advocate for distributive justice and a more horizontal approach to the conduct of health interventions as initially proposed by the WHO Alma Ata declaration, prioritizing cooperation, resistance and solidarity beyond the market logic.e concerning invisibility and identify topics for advocacy.

Alenichev A, Suwalowska H, Faure MC et al. Invisibility in global health: A case for disturbing bioethical frameworks [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]. Wellcome Open Res 2023, 8:191 (

Image credit: Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash