CONTROL, ELIMINATE DISEASES

Kenya launches infectious disease data centre

Cema will serve as a catalogue where data will be used to understand diseases and their impact.

In Summary

• The data centre brings together epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists, clinicians, mathematicians, statisticians, computer scientists and data scientists.

• The aim is to enhance data-driven decision-making to improve health in Kenya and in Africa.

University of Nairobi VC Prof Kiama Gitahi and Education CS Prof George Magoha cut the ribbon to launch the Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis at the University of Nairobi College of Health Sciences on June 9, 2021
University of Nairobi VC Prof Kiama Gitahi and Education CS Prof George Magoha cut the ribbon to launch the Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis at the University of Nairobi College of Health Sciences on June 9, 2021
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Kenya has launched a national data centre to support the control, elimination and eradication of infectious diseases in eastern and central Africa.

The Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (Cema) is being hosted at the University of Nairobi's College of Health Sciences.

The aim is to enhance data-driven decision-making to improve health in Kenya and Africa as a whole.

The data centre brings together epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists, clinicians, mathematicians, statisticians, computer scientists and data scientists from the University of Nairobi and partner institutions.

It will utilise analytical data to address issues of public health concerns like outbreaks and epidemics and to control and eliminate infectious diseases.

Other areas of research include understanding infectious diseases, monitoring antimicrobial resistance research and improving surveillance and response to public health events by keenly studying health data.

Health workers and post-graduates will be trained to enhance a better understanding of how to translate data insights into policies.

Acting Health director general Patrick Amoth, Education CS George Magoha and University of Nairobi VC Prof Kiama Gitahi during the launch of the Center for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis at the University of Nairobi College of Health Sciences on June 9, 2021
Acting Health director general Patrick Amoth, Education CS George Magoha and University of Nairobi VC Prof Kiama Gitahi during the launch of the Center for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis at the University of Nairobi College of Health Sciences on June 9, 2021
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Education CS Prof George Magoha praised the initiative, noting that the training arm of Cema under the University of Nairobi should mentor the next generation of researchers.

“Genuine data is power and knowledge. Managing a public health emergency of such proportions calls for a lot of sobriety in making rapid and meaningful decisions,” he said.

We must employ a multidisciplinary approach in tackling the pandemic using relevant data to make effective decisions.” 

Acting Health director general Patrick Amoth said accurate and focused health data would inform policy interventions.

“We have seen the value of science in managing the pandemic. We will stick with science until we overcome the pandemic,” he said.

Acting Health director general Patrick Amoth, University of Nairobi VC Prof Kiama Gitahi and Education CS Prof George Magoha during the launch of the Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis at the University of Nairobi College of Health Sciences on June 9, 2021
Acting Health director general Patrick Amoth, University of Nairobi VC Prof Kiama Gitahi and Education CS Prof George Magoha during the launch of the Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis at the University of Nairobi College of Health Sciences on June 9, 2021
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

 University of Nairobi VC Prof Kiama Gitahi lauded the launch of Cema and use of data-driven approaches for the control of infectious diseases.

“Data analytics helps decision makers to predict the future with more accuracy,” he said.

Centre co-founder Prof Thumbi Mwangi said, “Data drives decisions. At Cema, we are committed to achieving the precisions of science that enable data-driven decision-making from the accuracy of results obtained to accelerate the attainment of public health.” 

He said Covid-19 has made data accuracy a major element in all local research.

Staying ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic means having real time data to make decisions,” Dr Loice Ombajo said.

Ombajo is Cema co-founder, a senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi and Head of Infectious Disease Unit at Kenyatta National Hospital.

She said Cema will serve as a catalogue where more data collected in various areas will be used to understand diseases and their impact.