Incomplete COVID-19 Data: The curation of medical health data by the virus outbreak data Network-Africa

Mirjam van Reisen*, Francisca Onaolapo Oladipo, Mouhamed Mpezamihigo, Ruduan Plug, Mariam Basajja, Aliya Aktau, Putu Hadi Purnama Jati, Reginald Nalugala, Sakinat Folorunso, Samson Yohannes Amare, Ibrahim Abdulahi, Oluwole Olumuyiwa Afolabi, Ezra Mwesigwa, Getu Tadele Taye, Abdulahi Kawu, Mariem Ghardallou, Yan Liang, Obinna Osigwe, Araya Abrha Medhanyie, Munyaradzi Mawere

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialScientificpeer-review


The incompleteness of patient health data is a threat to the management of COVID-19 in Africa and globally. This has become particularly clear with the recent emergence of new variants of concern. The Virus Outbreak Data Network (VODAN)-Africa has studied the curation of patient health data in selected African countries and identified that health information flows often do not involve the use of health data at the point of care, which renders data production largely meaningless to those producing it. This modus operandi leads to disfranchisement over the control of health data, which is extracted to be processed elsewhere. In response to this problem, VODAN-Africa studied whether or not a design that makes local ownership and repositing of data central to the data curation process, would have a greater chance of being adopted. The design team based their work on the legal requirements of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR); the FAIR Guidelines on curating data as Findable, Accessible (under well-defined conditions), Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR); and national regulations applying in the context where the data is produced. The study concluded that the visiting of data curated as machine actionable and reposited in the locale where the data is produced and renders services has great potential for access to a wider variety of data. A condition of such innovation is that the innovation team is intradisciplinary, involving stakeholders and experts from all of the places where the innovation is designed, and employs a methodology of co-creation and capacity-building.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-697
Number of pages25
JournalData Intelligence
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022


  • FAIR Guidelines
  • FAIR Equivalency
  • Federated data
  • Digital health
  • GDPR
  • VODAN-Africa


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