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Trinity Challenge: Fiocruz debates information science and data


10/06/2021

Javier Abi-Saab (Fiocruz News Agency)

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"Data and information will be fundamental to understand the dynamics of health inequality reduction processes and establish better public policies and institutional arrangements to respond to and prevent upcoming crises, while contributing to the Unified Health System [SUS, acronym in Portuguese for the Brazilian public health system] improvement", said Nísia Trindade this Monday (September 7), during the event organized by The Trinity Challenge with the theme Opportunities in information science and data analysis in public health. Besides the president of Fiocruz, the event also counted with the participation of Sally Davies, president of The Trinity Challenge and former Chief Medical Officer of England; Evaldo Vilela, president of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development of Brazil; and Rafael Lozano, professor at the University of Washington.

Trindade emphasized Fiocruz's mission of developing research to produce health-relevant knowledge in multiple areas, from biomedical to social sciences. The articulation of such diverse data is undoubtedly one of the main challenges in the data analysis area, but it is certainly an articulation capable of having a positive impact on public health policies. For Nísia, "the time has come when it is necessary to confront the mother of all inequalities: the inequality of knowledge, innovation, and basic production”. The Fiocruz’s president highlighted two initiatives, among many, in which the Foundation is improving its contributions to data production and sharing: the COVID-19 Observatory, which produces information for action; and the Center for Data and Knowledge Integration for Health (Cidacs/Fiocruz Bahia), whose mission is to conduct multidisciplinary studies and research based on the databases integration.

In another prominent panel speech, Rafael Lozano, professor at the University of Washington, emphasized that we live in the age of data where algorithms guide the world. "COVID-19 is not the first disease in the digital age, but it is the most digital of all the pandemics we have experienced." For the professor, this is a tool that we need to know how to take advantage of, without the need to interfere in people's privacy. "We need to encourage governments more to work with data to better prepare us for the next pandemics and health challenges", Lozano said. According to him, the public and private sectors must invest more in collection and sharing, as well as take responsibility for translating data and science into public policy.

The Trinity Challenge

The Trinity Challenge is a coalition of diverse institutions to promote the improved use of data and analytics for our understanding of human behavior in response to health emergencies. The focus is on three key activities: defining a new global health challenge; facilitate collaborations among coalition members to improve outcomes and strengthen data quality and availability; and promote analytics and the learning ecosystem for global public health.

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