Big Data for HIV in Sub -African Region

By Srikanth
4 Min Read
Big Data for HIV in Sub -African Region 1

South African researcher Dr. Edith Phalane is utilizing big data to understand what are the most effective HIV control programs in sub-Saharan Africa. The motive behind the search is to end HIV/AIDS as an epidemic by 2030.


Dr. Phalane, at present, is a Research Manager at the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the University of Johannesburg (UJ); her latest project aims to collect and analyze big, complex sets of data to better get the information of local epidemics and evaluate the potential impact of HIV responses among the population of sub-Saharan Africa.

As per Dr. Phalane, the current project employs data science, 4th Industrial Revolution principles, computational, and advanced statistical methods to harness big unique data on HIV-related key population data.

Dr. Phalane got the role of research manager without prior professional experience in this field of data science. Dr. Phalane had promised to involve herself in the new possibilities and learn as she grows, so it’s a learning curve altogether. This states that her entire team will have to collaborate with other researchers, and the process of identifying relevant people with the set expertise and similar vision is time-consuming, which may delay some aspects of the project.

She believes that the project is, for a long-term basis, context-specific, up-to-date and comprehensive data that can acknowledge, accelerate and sustain the region’s HIV response that is competing for health priorities and devastating impacts of Covid-19.

It was a beautiful village valley surrounded by mountains, hills, and flowing rivers where she started her research work career when she got enrolled in the Masters of Health Sciences in Physiology at Northwest University.

Dr. Phalane mentioned that she has now transitioned from cardiovascular physiology into epidemiology and public health to keep an eye on infectious diseases.

She has a target to become an independent researcher that works as a worker in tackling epidemics in Africa. Global challenges can be concurred only by global solutions such as pandemics cannot be recovered or tackled by one country or region alone; it needs collaborative actions.

As an early-career researcher in the Global South, all she requires is to contribute to the knowledge generation that brings solutions to global challenges, as it is always a social responsibility of any research work on HIV responses among the key population of global public health concern. Moreover, HIV continues to abruptly affect sub-Saharan Africa, with the highest HIV infections occurring in SSA. The new version of the infection is being transmitted in women of reproductive age.

Dr. Phalane says as a woman scientist in the Global South, she feels it is significant to raise a voice in this context and give African perspectives and solutions when it comes to the HIV responses in Africa due to the differentiation that exists within and across countries.

If we can win the battle of addressing HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, it will make a huge difference on a global scale.

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