VODAN Africa Initiative Unveils The Board and Steering Committe for the Second Phase of the Project


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By Obinna Osigwe

The second phase of the VODAN Africa Initiative is steadily gathering momentum as the Board was unveiled today during the Webinar series on the 13th of October 2020. This was made known in a session chaired by Prof. Mirjam Van Reisen, the global coordinator VODAN Africa. 

The VODAN Africa Board is chaired by Dr. Mouhammad Mpezamihigo, the Chairman VODAN Africa Implementation Network and the Vice Chancellor, Kampala International University. Other members of the Board include:

  • Prof. Francisca Oladipo, the Overall Coordinator
  • Dr. Araya Abrha Medhanyie (Ethiopia)
  • Dr. Sakinat Folorunsho and Dr. Ibrahim Abdullahi from Nigeria
  • Dr. Reginald Nalugala (Kenya)
  • Dr. Mariem Ghardallou and Ms. Morgane Wirtz representing Tunisia
  • Dr. Andrew Chindaya from Zimbabwe
  • Prof. Van Reisen will sit as an observer on the board

The Board guides the activities of the steering committee chaired by Prof. Van Reisen. The overall coordination of the committee is headed by Prof. Oladipo with Dr. Medhanyie and Dr. Chindaya as coordinators. Also in the committee are:

  • Margot Cooijmans from Philips Foundation
  • Bert Meerman (GO FAIR Foundation)
  • Jasper Klapwijk (FMO)
  • Christina de Vries and Maarten Oranje from Cordaid.

The technical coordination of the committee is headed by Dr. Erik Schultes, while Han Baartmans oversees process product development. The production line and training will be handled by Charles Kahiro and Faye Ekong from Ravel Works.

Another important organ of VODAN Africa is the Consortium which includes representatives from Philip Foundation, GO FAIR and FMO. The Consortium reports to the Steering committee, which equally is supervised by the board. At the head of the VODAN Africa governance structure is the Board.


Data Competence Centres, Technical Planning, Documentation and Elearning

Prof Van Reisen also shared the vision for creation of Data Competence Centres  "This will help researchers with the FAIRification of research data on COVID-19. These centres will use International guidelines and will have the capacity to support data analytics efforts and research publications”. According to her, a technical session will be held to deepen the knowledge with regards to DCC.

The technical team consists of
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  • Ms. Mariam Basajja (FDPs installation and documentation)
  • Aliya Aktau (CEDAR localization)
  • Research data and CEDER (Dr. Meriam Ghardallou and Aliya Aktau
  • Data Steward Wizard - expansion, adaptability to DHIS and bulk input: Getu Tadele, Tigist Habtamu and other members that will indicate interest.
  • Equivalency: Putu Hadi Purnama Jati

"We are looking at bringing in additional features for the Data Stewardship Wizard. We are planning to adapt existing health information systems to our FAIR Data Points and DSW”, said Prof. Oladipo.

The team tasked with documenting requirements and specifications of data production in health are Dr. Reginald Nalugala, Dr. Sakinat Folorunsho, Dr. Meriam Ghardallou, Mariam Basajja, Putu Hadi Purnama Jati, and Aliya Aktau.

Prof. Oladipo also highlighted the strategies to institutionalize the knowledge acquired. This involves creating a digital elearning platform, three months certificate course on Computer Science, Data Science and FAIR Data Principles. These courses will be available on the Kampala International University’s Digital Learning Platform from 2021

VODAN Africa Special Issue

The Special Issue of Data Intelligence on the FAIR Data interoperability in COVID, the VODAN programme: Launching an international FAIR Data Network for COVID Data. Some topics outlined for the Issue will focused on:

  1. State of the art in FAIR-deployment under COVID-19.
  2. FAIR equivalency, regulatory frameworks and adoption potential of FAIR data in health.
  3. Semantic interoperability, data science analytics and curricula development.
  4. The relevance of FAIR to the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).

Prof. Van Reisen gave the timeline and the general list of topics for abstracts and requirements for articles. The submission of abstracts, review and editing of first and second draft of articles, and the final publication will be from Oct 2020 to April. These activities will be coordinated by Aliya Aktau and Dr. Fenghong Liu, Associate Professor at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences.