How is harnessing data science for health discovery and innovation in Africa health relevant?
Data are the currency of the future. In the next decade, rapid advances in data science are expected to transform biomedical research globally. Investing now to develop data science expertise in Africa has the potential to pay huge dividends—deploying economical technologies to increase diagnostic capabilities and improve health care in remote areas, as well as supporting scientists with advanced skills in data analysis who can study the vast trove of genomics information in Africa to make discoveries that improve health for us all.
There are opportunities to use data science to impact health outcomes in Africa. Africa carries unique populations, genes, and exposures. Therefore, tools developed in high-income countries that are based on European populations’ data often cannot be applied in the African context. The delivery of adequate health care services in Africa, especially in rural areas, requires novel solutions that embrace technology. With the ubiquity of cellphones across the continent and advances in new applications, health care workers (HCWs) have a powerful tool to help them bring the clinic to the patient. For instance, HCWs could use cellphone apps to make diagnoses, review treatment guidelines, and capture and analyze patient information. Such data science innovations could have powerful implications for rural and underserved populations worldwide, including the United States.