By Hope Nda
The University of Buea Faculty of Health Sciences, FHS, has launched a five-year project that is expected to improve access to quality of surgical care, minimise injuries and health inequities in Cameroon and 37 other African countries.
The project, “Harnessing data science for health discovery and innovation in Africa,” was launched on Thursday, 12 May, at FHS campus in Buea. It will fund the creation of a Data Centre for the Study of Surgery, Injury and Equity in Africa, D-SINE Africa, and will result in the creation of seven research hubs across Africa.
According to UB’s Vice Chancellor, Prof Horace Ngomo Manga, the D-SINE project funded at FCFA 3.5 billion (USD 6.4 million) is a precious and highly competitive opportunity the University is harnessing.
“Over the next five years, the D-SINE Africa centre will massively collect data on injuries in ten partner hospitals disseminated in five regions of our country. It will use these data to run to major sub-projects that are expected to significantly impact the outcome of the management of injuries in Cameroon and 37 other African countries with similar characteristics,” Prof Ngomo Manga said while launching the project.
He added that it will “open tremendous training and research funding opportunities for numerous young scientists of the University of Buea who are interested in conducting research in surgery, injury and equity”.
According to Prof Chichom-Mefire, the project’s Principal Investigator, the project will be implemented, first, by deploying researchers to 10 hospitals in Cameroon to collect data on injuries, data that will guide policy makers to control the issue of injury in Cameroon.
“Clearly we believe injury should deserve the same level of priority as other public health issues, which are coordinated at the central level. We believe that injuries in Cameroon are still neglected, that is why epidemiologists call it the neglected epidemic,” he said.
Data from the D-SINE project will further be used to run two projects. The first, Prof Chichom said, “is going to be to contribute to reducing inequities in access to surgical care among Cameroonians… The second project will permit us to identify those patients who have come to the hospital, have been discharged, and who are still sick, to be able to identify them and bring them to back to a situation where they can have access to quality surgical care”.
The D-SINE Africa project is being sponsored by two American Government-owned institutions: the National Institute of Health, NIH, and the Fogarty International Centre, FIC, and will be implemented in partnership with other institutions like: the University of California, University of Beckeley, the University of Cape Town and the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences.
Alongside the D-SINE Africa project, the Faculty of Health Science will be co-running another project, “Quantitative pipeline for multidisciplinary trauma research in Cameroon” (STREaM Cameroon), which will be principally implemented by the University of California, USA.
The STREaM project funded at FCFA 820.3 million (USD 1.3 million) is expected to train FHS post-graduate students in the Department of Public Health and Hygiene on quantitative analysis, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and mathematical modelling applied to injury during the next five years.
Apart from Prof Chichom, other Principal Investigators of both projects will include: Prof Catherine Julliard (University of California); Prof Georges Nguefack-Tsague (University of Yaounde I); Prof Alan Hubbard (University of Berckeley); and Dr Salome Maswime (University of Cape Town).