Nav: Home

Researchers collaborate to develop bird's eye view of rural community health

October 19, 2016

Scientists from the Wits School of Public Health, the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the University of Limpopo have established a network of surveillance sites to study health and demographics in rural communities and thereby understand the impact of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

This network of Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) sites is an integrated national platform for population data collection and analysis. It is one of 13 projects that make up the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR) funded by Department of Science and Technology and the European Union. Research infrastructures (RIs) are large scale facilities, resources and related services that the scientific community uses to conduct research.

Dr Mark Collinson, Senior Researcher in the MRC/Wits University Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt), and HDSS champion, says: "Establishing this research infrastructure is an important step towards understanding how poverty, inequality and unemployment impact South Africans' lives and how to design better interventions to remedy the situation for an improved future."

The surveillance sites will enable real-time longitudinal studies of South Africa's fast-changing poorer communities and national datasets on health, education, employment and socio-economic well-being. This evidence-based data will inform cost evaluations and policy towards improving health and well-being interventions for the poor.

Furthermore, the surveillance sites will serve as interdisciplinary research platforms for local and international collaboration. This will increase capacity for conducting research in the social sciences crucially needed in South Africa.

The project will begin by integrating and standardising three existing surveillance sites in South Africa: MRC/Wits Agincourt HDSS in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, established in 1992 (current population 115,000); University of Limpopo Dikgale HDSS in Dikgale, Limpopo, established in 1996 (current population 35,000); and AHRI's Population Intervention Platform in uMkhanyakude, KwaZulu-Natal, established in 2000 (population 100,000).

Another network of surveillance site nodes will be added to include Gauteng (urban), eThekwini (urban), Eastern Cape (rural) and Western Cape (urban). This expanded platform, representing over 1% of the national population (55,6 million) will enable unprecedented understanding of emerging populations as well as of the bi-directional migration flows that link poor, rural communities with urban centres.

Dr Kobus Herbst, AHRI Deputy Director and HDSS champion says: "From our perspective, ill health is a cause [of people returning to rural homes]. If one can study the dynamic between rural and urban populations and better understand the impact of ill health and lack of access to services, and its relationship to inequality and poverty, we will be better able to measure the impact of government policies and intervene to address these issues."
-end-


University of the Witwatersrand

Related Public Health Articles:

Public health guidelines aim to lower health risks of cannabis use
Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, released today with the endorsement of key medical and public health organizations, provide 10 science-based recommendations to enable cannabis users to reduce their health risks.
Study clusters health behavior groups to broaden public health interventions
A new study led by a University of Kansas researcher has used national health statistics and identified how to cluster seven health behavior groups based on smoking status, alcohol use, physical activity, physician visits and flu vaccination are associated with mortality.
Public health experts celebrate 30 years of CDC's prevention research solutions for communities with health disparities
It has been 30 years since CDC created the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) Program, currently a network of 26 academic institutions across the US dedicated to moving new discoveries into the communities that need them.
Public health experts support federally mandated smoke-free public housing
In response to a new federal rule mandating smoke-free policies in federally funded public housing authorities, three public health experts applaud the efforts of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to protect nonsmoking residents from the harmful effects of tobacco exposure.
The Lancet Public Health: UK soft drinks industry levy estimated to have significant health benefits, especially among children
The UK soft drinks industry levy, due to be introduced in April 2018, is estimated to have significant health benefits, especially among children, according to the first study to estimate its health impact, published in The Lancet Public Health.
Social sciences & health innovations: Making health public
The international conference 'Social Sciences & Health Innovations: Making Health Public' is the third event organized as a collaborative endeavor between Maastricht University, the Netherlands, and Tomsk State University, the Russian Federation, with participation from Siberian State Medical University (the Russian Federation).
Columbia Mailman School Awards Public Health Prize to NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T.
Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was awarded the Frank A.
Poor health literacy a public health issue
America's poor record on health literacy is a public health issue, but one that can be fixed -- not by logging onto the internet but by increased interaction with your fellow human beings, a Michigan State University researcher argues.
Despite health law's bow to prevention, US public health funding is dropping: AJPH study
Although the language of the Affordable Care Act emphasizes disease prevention -- for example, mandating insurance coverage of clinical preventive services such as mammograms -- funding for public health programs to prevent disease have actually been declining in recent years.
'Chemsex' needs to become a public health priority
Chemsex -- sex under the influence of illegal drugs -- needs to become a public health priority, argue experts in The BMJ this week.

Related Public Health Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Don't Fear Math
Why do many of us hate, even fear math? Why are we convinced we're bad at it? This hour, TED speakers explore the myths we tell ourselves and how changing our approach can unlock the beauty of math. Guests include budgeting specialist Phylecia Jones, mathematician and educator Dan Finkel, math teacher Eddie Woo, educator Masha Gershman, and radio personality and eternal math nerd Adam Spencer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#517 Life in Plastic, Not Fantastic
Our modern lives run on plastic. It's in the computers and phones we use. It's in our clothing, it wraps our food. It surrounds us every day, and when we throw it out, it's devastating for the environment. This week we air a live show we recorded at the 2019 Advancement of Science meeting in Washington, D.C., where Bethany Brookshire sat down with three plastics researchers - Christina Simkanin, Chelsea Rochman, and Jennifer Provencher - and a live audience to discuss plastics in our oceans. Where they are, where they are going, and what they carry with them. Related links:...