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  • on 19.06.2015
  • at 12:20 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Open data key to tackling neglected tropical diseases 0

Cape Town – Open data access could promote collaborations among researchers in Africa and help in the fight against malaria, tuberculosis (TB) and neglected tropical diseases such as sleeping sickness, also called African trypanosomiasis.

At a time when demand for open data in health and drug discovery is dominating the digital space, some researchers say the model could work for Africa and alleviate the sufferings of many from these diseases.

Following the call on 23 April this year from the WHO for the disclosure of all results from clinical trials of new medicines, there is a push towards greater transparency.

Open access presents opportunities for African research and international collaboration, according to Michelle Willmers, project manager of Open Data Africa Initiative, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

“Open data initiatives provide local researchers with more avenues to get involved in what previously may have been considered high-level, niche or expensive drug discovery research,” says Willmers tells SciDev.Net in an exclusive interview.

Tim Wells, chief scientific officer of Switzerland-based Medicines for Malaria Venture, one of the funders of Open Source Malaria (OSM), says the initiative promotes the discovery of treatments against malaria through access to an open database of resources that lack patents. Users are encouraged to share data and ideas back into the domain.

“The amount of resources going into drug discovery for African neglected diseases by Africa in Africa is small. Open [source] can make an impact by supporting best practices and the best chances of results,” Wells adds.

Continue reading on SciDev.ent

by Laura Owings

Photo Credit: © AGRA

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