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Wednesday, 6th May 2015

Overcoming Barriers to Data Sharing in Public Health: A Global Perspective

Source: Chatham House


The interaction between barriers to data sharing in public health is complex, and single solutions to single barriers are unlikely to be successful. Political, economic and legal obstacles will be the most challenging to overcome.

Public health data sharing occurs extensively as a collection of subregional and regional surveillance networks. These existing networks have often arisen as a consequence of a specific local public health crisis, and should be integrated into any global framework.

Data sharing in public health is successful when a perceived need is addressed, and the social, political and cultural context is taken into account.

A global data sharing legal framework is unlikely to be successful. A global data governance or ethical framework, supplemented by local memoranda of understanding that take into account the local context, is more likely to succeed.

The International Health Regulations (IHR) should be considered as an infrastructure for data sharing. However, their lack of enforcement mechanism, lack of minimum data sets, lack of capacity assessment mechanism, and potential impact on trade and travel following data sharing need to be addressed.

Optimal data sharing does not equate with open access for public health data.

+ Direct link to document (PDF; 340 KB)



Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »

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