Ebola Data Platform Should Be African-Based, Led Effort

Nature: Build the Ebola database in Africa
Brian Conton, clinical director of the Physio-Fitness Rehabilitation Centre in Sierra Leone

“…This September, the Infectious Diseases Data Observatory (IDDO), a research network based at the University of Oxford, U.K., held a meeting in Guinea to discuss plans for an information platform to share data obtained during the latest outbreaks, in hopes of improving responses in the future. … The platform has yet to be established, and these preparatory efforts are well-intentioned. But in my opinion, having African scientists work on an information platform in another part of the world and at the behest of and under the jurisdiction of others does not confer the same benefits as working with local researchers to build our own tools on the ground. … [I]t would be more useful, and more equitable, to base the project in West Africa, at the front line of the battle against the virus. … Whatever data platform is built, … researchers in Africa can and should be building and curating it. A credible African-led initiative could convince people that the outputs of the data platform would be relevant to and usable by them. This could ease collaborations. … An African-led initiative has a legitimacy that a third party does not … It would also give us researchers in Africa a better chance of establishing true collaborations that build on and acknowledge the scientific capacity we have” (11/7).