Original Research

Big Data Analytics for Integrated Infectious Disease Surveillance in sub-Saharan Africa

Mourine S. Achieng, Oluwamayowa O. Ogundaini
South African Journal of Information Management | Vol 26, No 1 | a1668 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v26i1.1668 | © 2024 Mourine S. Achieng, Oluwamayowa O. Ogundaini | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 February 2023 | Published: 30 January 2024

About the author(s)

Mourine S. Achieng, Department of Digital Transformation and Innovation, Graduate School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, Midrand, South Africa
Oluwamayowa O. Ogundaini, Department of Digital Transformation and Innovation, Graduate School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, Midrand, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Infectious disease outbreaks are common in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Consequently, integrated public health surveillance has become increasingly essential for the region. Health surveillance systems enable early detection and monitoring of emerging and re-emerging disease outbreaks, thus informing preparedness and response measures. However, complex and intertwined factors obstruct a successful integrated public health surveillance in SSA, with dire consequences.

Objectives: The objective of this article was to establish how big data analytics can be used to enhance integrated infectious disease surveillance and response in SSA.

Method: The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) was used to identify and select relevant articles. A total of 10 studies that addressed the article’s objective were selected.

Results: Findings reveal several barriers to the application of big data analytics for public health surveillance in SSA. These include the absence of regulatory and data governance frameworks for big data management in healthcare, disparities in digital health infrastructure across SSA’s healthcare systems, and the digital and analytical skills required for data capture and interpretation. The development of regulatory frameworks is essential for the ethical application of analytical technologies such as artificial intelligence.

Conclusion: This article’s contributions emphasise the need for comprehensive strategies for the application of big data analytics for public health surveillance, as well as addressing barriers to its successful application by highlighting the requirements for an integrated infectious disease surveillance and response system in SSA.

Contribution: The article contributes to the body of knowledge on the interplay between the public health space and digital health interventions by emphasising the beneficial applications of big data analytics for surveillance and response to address emerging and re-emerging infectious disease outbreaks in the health systems of sub-Saharan Africa.


Keywords

big data analytics; integrated infectious disease surveillance; public health; digital health; health security; health systems; sub-Saharan Africa

JEL Codes

I31: General Welfare, Well-Being

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

Metrics

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