Moses John Bockarie at The Conversation: “Global collaboration and sharing data on public health emergencies is important to fight the spread of infectious diseases. If scientists and health workers can openly share their data across regions and organisations, countries can be better prepared and respond faster to disease outbreaks.
This was the case in with the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Close to 100 scientists, clinicians, health workers and data analysts from around the world worked together to help contain the spread of the disease.
But there’s a lack of trust when it comes to sharing data in north-south collaborations. African researchers are suspicious that their northern partners could publish data without acknowledging the input from the less resourced southern institutions where the data was first generated. Until recently, the authorship of key scientific publications, based on collaborative work in Africa, was dominated by scientists from outside Africa.
The Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness, an international network of major research funding organisations, recently published a roadmap to data sharing. This may go some way to address the data sharing challenges. Members of the network are expected to encourage their grantees to be inclusive and publish their results in open access journals. The network includes major funders of research in Africa like the European Commission, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust.
The roadmap provides a guide on how funders can accelerate research data sharing by the scientists they fund. It recommends that research funding institutions make real-time, external data sharing a requirement. And that research needs to be part of a multi-disciplinary disease network to advance public health emergencies responses.
In addition, funding should focus on strengthening institutions’ capacity on a number of fronts. This includes data management, improving data policies, building trust and aligning tools for data sharing.
Allowing researchers to freely access data generated by global academic counterparts is critical for rapidly informing disease control strategies in public health emergencies….(More)”.