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Reliable and timely data for decision making to cope with the pandemic.
06 May, 2020

Without reliable data on COVID-19, we cannot possibly understand the magnitude of the pandemic and respond appropriately to the threat, nor assess the impact of measures against the pandemic, neither as individuals nor as a society. Access to accurate and timely vital and civil registration statistics of populations including data on death, positive cases, new cases, and high-risk profile by locations can drive decision making for effective and timely actions. Nevertheless, of available data between 2009-2018 in 42 African countries, only eight have a birth registration system with a coverage rate higher than 90%, and only four African countries in 2018 met 80.0% of open data inventory’s data coverage criteria for the population & vital statistics. Also, there are many national and international sources (private and public) of data on COVID, however, there is increasing uncertainty over published data because of data discrepancies across sources. Additionally, related high frequency economic, financial and social data is nearly absent in Africa as are databases for vulnerable group. Below are some efforts that can be undertaken to address the pressing need for reliable and timely information on COVID-19.

  1. Strong collaboration between governments and their stakeholders particularly those having existing robust data systems (civil registration and vital statistics systems), for timely data collection and reporting on new cases, positive cases and death.
  2. Develop system/platform for harmonization and integration of difference agency databases to allow collective utilization of high frequent data from formal sector (on employment, income, social security, banking sector and others).
  3. Foster real time and big data collection information from existing platforms and social media.
  4. Prioritize and invest in well-functioning civil registration and vital statistics systems.
  5. Emphasize on developing innovative and digital systems for data collection, processing and reporting, this includes applications that can help in tracing patients.
  6. Develop strategic partnerships between private and public institutions for data production.
  7. Establish data tracking mechanism for domestic and international COVID-19 policy responses at country level.


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