How to increase data sharing equitably
INDEPTH scientific conference panel discussion
MAPUTO, Mozambique - Data sharing, and how to do this fairly and equitably, was a plenary topic at this year's annual INDEPTH scientific conference that began 24 October. The session, which drew almost 200 people, was organized by ESSENCE (Enhancing Support for Strengthening the Effectiveness of National Capacity Efforts), which is a collaborative framework between funding agencies to scale up research capacity. TDR facilitated the debate as part of the hosting support provided to ESSENCE and also to help build capacity in research and leadership in low and middle income countries.
A joint statement by seventeen major health research funding agencies to increase the availability of research data within the scientific community was launched in January this year. The majority of signatories were funding agencies based in high income countries (HICs), many of which fund health research in and for health issues of low and middle income countries (LMICs).
The statement raised concerns among investigators and institutions in LMICs because of inequitable access to research data by the scientific community, partially due to the limited analytic and data management capacities in these countries. A potential consequence is that research conducted in LMICs may be mainly accessed and used by the scientific community in HICs. INDEPTH and COHRED published a response in September of 2011.
The panel discussion moderated by Garry Aslanyan from TDR provided another opportunity to discuss the issues. Some key conclusions:
- Data sharing is important and is an opportunity for funders and researchers to increase the impact of research for the improvement of health
- Increased collaboration and consultation between funders and researchers is needed to ensure all necessary aspects associated with the challenges and opportunities of date sharing are discussed and jointly addressed
- Funding should be included in research projects to develop the capacity to do data analysis
- The primary analysis of data collected in LMICs should be done by those who collected it, and the secondary analysis be done by researchers in the countries where the data was collected
- Governments and research agencies in LMICs should contribute to the data sharing dialogue and help establish enabling environments in LMICs settings to ensure equitable access to data sharing and use of results from research.
The panelists (listed below) included representatives of funding and development cooperation agencies; African research councils and African health research institutions; and international NGOs and networks:
- Kobust Herbst, Deputy Director, Africa Centre, INDEPTH Network, South Africa
- Margaret Gyapong, Director, Dodowa Health Research Centre, Ghana
- Mary Basset, Director, African Health Initiative, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
- Debbie Marais, Research and Development Officer, COHRED Group
This is the 11th INDEPTH Scientific Conference (formerly known as the AGM). This year's theme is increasing the productivity and utilisation of health and demographic surveillance system data for public health in low- and middle-income countries.
For more information contact Dr Garry Aslanyan.