Scholars call for data specialists in pursuit of UHC

Scholars have called for the onboarding of data specialists in the pursuit of universal health care, to measure the gains of the program.

The scholars underscored that health data will be vital to inform policies that will address the gaps in public health.

This comes as the country gears up to roll out the UHC after various failed attempts in the past.

Ann Mwangi, Associate Professor of Biostatistics, at Moi University, said there is need of biostatistics to inform health data pipeline.

"So we need to ensure we have the correct data pipeline in our health information systems and then involve statisticians to help in using this data to inform our care delivery in the country," Prof Mwangi said.

She spoke during the launch of the second Deltas Africa Sub-Saharan Africa Consortium for Advanced Biostatistics Training programme. Prof Mwangi will lead the Kenyan consortium.

Under the programme, Moi University will get a chance to train scholars in Biostatistics while conducting research on the same.

She described the program as timely as the country lacks enough capacity.

"We are looking at collaboration with other institutions in sub-saharan Africa to work together, talk to each other and collaborate to strengthen our own program," she noted.

The program aims to drive biostatistical research excellence to enable robust health systems and interventions that culminate in better health outcomes on the continent.

Sub-Saharan Africa Consortium for Advanced Biostatistics Training director, Prof Tobias Chirwa said that the continent lacks the required number of biostatiscians to inform health policies and public health.

"The context why we have this consortium is to bring together all the statisticians into one particular place in order to help each other in building capacity," Prof Chirwa said.

He further noted that the training of biostatisticians locally will help cut on the cost as previously, most countries depended on expatriates to execute these roles.

During the first training of the biostatisticians, 130 Masters scholars and another 27PhD trainees took part in the programme.

Chirwa further lauded the uptake of the programme by women who in the first round of training represented 45 per cent of the total participants.

Prof. Mwangi of Moi University further noted that the students who are going to analyse data are expected to go through ethical training.

"Before the students handle human data there are some courses they have to go through for human subject protection," she said.

Further, the scholars are required as standard procedure to publish reproducible data and the code analysis should be shared to make sure that if someone else cares about the same analysis they will get almost the same figure.