Organization: Africa & Harvard School of Public Health
Country: Nigeria; South Africa; Tanzania; Uganda
Forum: Big data & healthcare
The Africa/Harvard School of Public Health established the Partnership for Cohort Research and Training (PaCT) with the aim of carrying out longitudinal studies of chronic disease in Africa. Longitudinal studies collect information on an individual’s lifestyle, such as their diet, physical activity and medication usage, and correlate it with disease outcomes in order to inform preventative health policy. These studies are already widely used in North America and Europe and now, as chronic disease in Africa is beginning to overtake infectious disease, PaCT seeks to roll-out longitudinal studies in Africa to better quantify the magnitude of non-communicable diseases, specific risk factors and how they interact with the African genome. It is hoped that the project will encourage social entrepreneurism geared toward chronic disease management, continuous assessment of health, and public health prevention.
So far, approximately 1500 participants across five locations in Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda have been involved in a pilot project. The data has been collected and a number of analyses have been planned on the following issues: hypertension; abuse, anxiety and depression; diabetes; cardiovascular disease; and dietary intake. Information from the pilot will also be used to assess the feasibility of using mobile phone data in future studies.
The full study will enroll 500,000 participants and use innovative technology to keep costs low and establish continuous flows of data, rather than sporadic influxes. The data collected through PaCT’s research will be used to help ministries of health in African nations to set effective policies on chronic disease.