Big data's newest tool to fight malaria

By Folake Dosu  |  October 14, 2018

big-data-malaria

Hungary-based big data company Starschema and global health organization PATH are partnering to leverage big data in the fight against malaria, with a pilot beginning in Zambia, Senegal, and Ethiopia, as announced in a joint press release

Prior to this integration, health workers had to access data visualization software Tableau and the health management data platform District Health Information System (DHIS2) separately. The new software integration will make it easier and more secure for health workers to access data visualizations generated in Tableau within DHIS2.

Big data technologies are especially potent for tracking and preventing the spread of infectious disease. One incredible success story is Zambia’s 85 percent decrease in malaria cases in the country's Southern Province between 2014 and 2017.

Established by WHO and used in over 50 countries, the DHIS2 contains a global bank of medical records collected everyday by local doctors and health workers. This new integration enhances this information through the addition of other data sources including healthcare institutional information and map data.

"We helped build an application that enables professionals to use a single platform for tracking the spread of diseases, for tackling the challenge of analysing data sets which can easily contain millions of records, for discovering emerging disease patterns, and for determining the critical regions where prevention or immediate action is necessary,” says Starschema CEO Tamas Foldi. “We provided the coding, analytical and technical expertise necessary to help realise this goal.”

PATH is equally optimistic about how these efficiencies will translate on the field. "Access to quality and timely information is not only critical for reducing the disease burden but also for increasing health equity. Through this application integration, health workers will receive data faster and easier, enabling them to better track malaria cases, understand trends and ultimately drive toward eliminating this deadly disease," explained Jeff Bernson, chief data officer at PATH. "The roadblocks to health are many, but access to better data insights should not be one of them."

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