Prioritarian Principles for Digital Health in Low Resource Settings

Niall Winters, Sridhar Venkatapuram, Anne Geniets, Emma Grace Wynne Bannister

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This theoretical paper argues for prioritarianism as an ethical underpinning for digital health in contexts of extreme disadvantage. In support of this claim, the paper develops three prioritarian principles for making ethical decisions for digital health programme design, grounded in the normative position that the greater the need (of the marginalised), the stronger the moral claim. The principles are positioned as an alternative view to the prevailing utilitarian approach to digital health, which the paper argues is not sufficient to address the needs of the worst off. As researchers of digital health, we must ensure that the most globally marginalised are not overlooked by overtly technocentric implementation practices. Consequently, the paper concludes by advocating for use of the three principles to support stronger critical reflection on the ethics involved in the design and implementation of digital health programmes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105468.R2
Pages (from-to)259-264
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Medical Ethics
Issue number4
Early online date16 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • distributive justice
  • health workforce
  • information technology
  • philosophical ethics
  • public health ethics


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