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Opening Africa’s medical data presents both pros and cons
By Gift Kenneth  |  Jun 30, 2022
Opening Africa’s medical data presents both pros and cons
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Open data hold both advantages and disadvantages but will encourage dialogs and partnerships, asserts machine learning engineer Gift Kenneth as her contribution to The Yuan’s open medical data series. Africa’s data are underrepresented, hard to access or unavailable, problems open access would mark a major step toward solving.

PORT HARCOURT, NIGERIA - The future of healthcare will be data-driven and built on open data. This will be for several reasons, including accessibility, creating opportunities for independent researchers, universities, and companies, improved transparency, and collaboration that enables contributors to take data and make actionable insights out of them. 

This article will discuss the benefits of open data and shed some light on possible drawbacks. As with every innovation or technological advancement, one must pay close attention to all side effects and unintended consequences, especially since many of these drawbacks are not all that unique to healthcare. 

With regards to open healthcare data, Africa remains underrepresented, and the best remedy for this is to further promote open science and open data. For modern healthcare innovations such as precision medicine, drug discovery, and others to become fully established within the continent, the right foundation for them must be put in place by making the necessary data available. 

There are a few open science projects that are ongoing, including popular ones such as the H3ABionet project and Data First. Thanks to open-source communities and initiatives, the African continent is gradually being absorbed by the radical open-source movement in technology, which should have a positive effect on open science. 

That said, here are some advantages to open data. 


Innovations in research and technology: Data being contributed by and made accessible by many people will boost the speed of innovation. This offers easy access to healthcare data to a wide population of healthcare professionals, researchers, universities, and hospitals, which can enhance various areas of research such as machine learning (ML) for healthcar

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Nice piece Gift Kenneth, very insightful.
Thank you