How big data can fight disease in Africa

Diseases and epidemics are still rife in Africa. But can big data beat their patterns?

When it comes to the use of data in fighting disease spread in Africa, there is nominal effect despite data holding great benefits in the medical sector. Data gathering and storage is still splintered and not easily compatible across medical agencies.

One notable use of big data was during the Ebola epidemic in 2014. Several applications were launched to track the infections in several countries.

US based Healthmap.org was crucial in mapping out deaths across the globe, giving health agencies the needed signal on the most affected regions. Magpi, a digital data collection tool, was also used in place of paper-based data collections during the crisis.

Even after such digital-led examples, most government-owned institutions have not given much heed to the power of data. Currently, medical practitioners record infections either on a manual or on a closed digital system, but the data is rarely shared.

However, there are merits that would prove that data sharing and aggregations have more benefits to communities in Africa.

Prevention is better than cure

Medical practitioners will tell you the first step in fighting disease spread is to prevent it. They would also add that one major hurdle in prevention of diseases is lack of relevant information.

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