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Data Governance for Early Warning Systems

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the proliferation of new data that have created unprecedented opportunities to establish early warning systems for pandemics. These systems not only have capabilities to predict and detect pathogens that could spill over from animals to humans but also can translate data into action for the whole of society.

Recently launched efforts, such as the World Health Organization’s International Pathogen Surveillance Network, aim to build collaborative systems to identify outbreaks early and prevent them from spreading. As these and other public health data efforts continue, creating pathways for communities to engage in data governance has never been more urgent.

This issue brief reports the findings from three virtual consultations conducted in July 2023 with community health advocates and workers in several African countries. The consultations were designed to explore critical aspects of community engagement in health data governance. They addressed topics such as the involvement of communities in data stewardship, community training for data governance, and the potential for data trusts, and made recommendations for further action.