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State of Data Science for Health in Africa

Rakai Health Sciences Program in UgandaIn the next decade, rapid advances in data science are expected to transform biomedical and behavioral research, leading to improved health for millions of people. While Africa carries a disproportionate share of the global burden of disease, the potential for data science to spur health discoveries and catalyze innovation is enormous. Improvements in data availability and quality, better infrastructure and capacity and increased engagement from a variety of academic, government, non-government and private sector actors suggest significant progress is on the horizon in Africa, though significant challenges remain.

This writing project is led by three Scientific Co-Chairs with support from the Fogarty Center for Global Health Studies (CGHS) and several partner organizations. Through engagement with a diverse group of African data science experts, this project will develop a collection of scientific articles to be published in the Nature portfolio of journals.

The goals of the collection are to:

  • Provide a benchmark for the state of the field that can be used by data science and health communities to assess progress over the next several years.
  • Highlight the importance and potential of data science to improve health in Africa.
  • Advance the field, discuss new trends and opportunities, exchange ideas and practices and stimulate new thinking.

mother and child sitting in a chair while data is being taken on mobile device

The collection will be led and driven by the Africa data science community and diaspora, with authors predominantly from the continent. The writing process will promote transdisciplinary and cross-domain collaborations by bringing together thought leaders, researchers, industry practitioners and potential users of data across various career levels. Papers in the collection will be published in alignment with the principles of open science and open access.

This project hosted a virtual workshop in June 2022 to identify key topics to include in the collection. Writings teams will be formed by the fall of 2022 with the intention of beginning publication in late 2023.

This project complements the NIH Common Fund’s Harnessing Data Science for Health Discovery and Innovation in Africa (DS-I Africa) program. These two activities may inform each other but are managed separately by different divisions at Fogarty.

Scientific Co-Chairs

  • Catherine Kyobutungi, Executive Director of the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)
  • Emile Rugamika Chimusa, Associate Professor of Statistical Genetics and Genetic Epidemiology at the University of Cape Town
  • A. Kofi Amegah, Senior Lecturer of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Cape Coast

Partner Organizations

  • U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS)
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) / President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR, U.S. Department of State)
  • Science for Africa Foundation
  • Rockefeller Foundation
  • U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

Inquiries

Amit Mistry, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist
Center for Global Health Studies
Fogarty Division of International Science Policy, Planning and Evaluation
Email: amit.mistry@nih.gov

Arina Knowlton
Global Health Research and Policy Analyst
Center for Global Health Studies
Fogarty Division of International Science Policy, Planning and Evaluation
Email: arina.kadam@nih.gov

Updated August 2, 2022