Looking back 10 years and looking forward 5 years - as the INDEPTH Executive Director marks 10th anniversary (2007-2017)

Objective 1: To strengthen the capacity of INDEPTH member centres to conduct longitudinal health and demographic studies
Summary: In the last ten years, INDEPTH has raised and invested more than US $3 million to train low- and middle-income country (LMIC) data scientists, greatly strengthening the capacity of those working in LMIC settings to conduct high quality health and demographic  research. It has also improved the quality of data produced by member centres of the Network by harmonising data management systems and making data available not just across the Network but publicly on the web. And as well as continuing to ensure a high rate of scientific publications by member centres, INDEPTH has supported its member centres to publish over 30 cohort profiles in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
Indicator 1.1: Training of scientists and HDSS staff and improving the skills of existing ones
  • Strengthened through continued awarding of scholarships to member centres in the INDEPTH MSc in Population-based Field Epidemiology at Wits University in Johannesburg, which was created in 2005. More than $2,000,000 to train more than 40 HDSS scientists by 2017.
  • Developed and launched in 2015 a new MSc programme targeting data scientists. 10 HDSS data scientists have graduated in Research Data Management.
  • Introduced partial support for PhD students and ensured INDEPTH projects nested PhD opportunities. More than 10 HDSS scientists have benefited.
  • $300,000 invested in supporting more than 100 young scientists and more than 30 senior scientists with travel awards to scientific conferences, mainly the INDEPTH Scientific Conference, to present HDSS based research.
  • $500,000 invested in supporting more than 200 centre-scientists to attend INDEPTH training workshops (data analysis, scientific writing, proposal development) in different thematic areas.
  • The INTREC project, funded by EU over three years with a budget of €420,000, brought key universities in the US and Europe to specifically target INDEPTH researchers and provided them with social determinants of health-related training, thereby allowing the production of evidence on associations between SDH and health outcomes.
Indicator 1.2: Improving data harmonisation and management across the Network
  • Strengthened data management systems and harmonised data across centres – included training for data scientists. Almost all member centres have gone through the training.
  • Comprehensive Network-wide data access and sharing policy finalised and published in International Journal of Epidemiology 2012.
  • Launched the world’s first online data repository for longitudinal population-based public health data and its associated online visualization INDEPTHStats. The INDEPTH Data Repository has gained recognition as an approved repository to lodge publication datasets by PLOS in 2015.
  • Published data from more than 26 member HDSSs for over 1.9 million individuals and over 30 million person-years of observation representing the first harmonised database of longitudinal population-based data from LMICs (for a total of 85 published datasets since inception in July 2013).
  • INDEPTH multi-centre project datasets increasingly included on the publicly available data repository.
  • External institutions/researchers are increasingly requesting INDEPTH to host their research data on the Data Repository
Indicator 1.3: Improving the quality and depth of data collected by member centres
  • INDEPTH has invested more than $200,000 in the development of OpenHDS for use by HDSS sites.
  • Several HDSS sites are getting support from INDEPTH to migrate their data capture to electronic platform OpenHDS.
  • More than $5,000,000 invested in the INDEPTH Data Management Programme to train data managers, organise workshops for centre leaders and data managers to get their datasets through INDEPTH’s rigorous data quality routines.
Indicator 1.4: Increasing the number of publications using INDEPTH member data
  • Secured an agreement with the reputable International Journal of Epidemiology (IJE) to publish cohort profiles of all INDEPTH member HDSSs.
  • Launched the HDSS cohort profiles series in IJE; more than 30 HDSS cohort profiles published since 2012.
  • Sustained productivity of Network members with collective annual output of well over 400 peer-reviewed publications in international journals.
Key challenges in the pursuance of this objective
  • Limited resources to train more scientists and data managers
  • Lack of critical mass of senior scientists to mentor young scientists
  • Lack of funds to construct its own training centre in order to utilise the global faculty of
  • INDEPTH-associated scientists spread across the world’s best institutions.
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