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Should researchers be made more widely available to demographic surveillance system data?

Posted by plosmedicine on 31 Mar 2009 at 00:22 GMT

Author: Peter Byass
Position: Professor
Institution: Umeå International School of Public Health
Submitted Date: March 04, 2008
Published Date: March 4, 2008
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

I read this debate initiated by Chandramohan et al. with interest, having collaborated with a number of Indepth member sites around the world over many years. My alternative title is meant to raise a serious point which may find some middle ground within this debate. Personally I would be very reluctant to work with any DSS data from a site that I had not visited and whose context and mode of working I did not understand at first hand. Thus, rather than calling for DSS data to be made publicly available and possibly be interpreted out of context, I would suggest that the concerns of Zaba et al. around technical obstacles to data sharing need to be addressed by resource-rich institutions making more of their researchers and analysts available for on-site DSS collaborations. This represents a more holistic approach, including possibilities for meaningful capacity-building, whilst also addressing the world's urgent needs for output from the very valuable repositories of DSS data.

No competing interests declared.