The Federal Ministry of Health's Data Analytics Research Fellowship Program
The Nigerian National Health Information System faces numerous challenges and is unable to provide the much-needed quality health data required for decision-making. Among many structural and governance barriers, this weakness is also largely due to low data analytics and coordination capacity, as well as the fragmented and disorganized manner of data systems development in the country.
Data analytics can improve health care in different ways. Some of these include; regular monitoring of health outcomes, improving decision support mechanisms, informing policy development, etc. More importantly, policymakers and stakeholders in health with the use of data and analytics will be able to make use of new tools that can provide valuable insight into the health status of the populace, quality of service delivery and financial implications.
For a number of years, the eHealth for Everyone Foundation, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and other stakeholders, has provided health data analytics support to enhance evidence-based decision making in Nigeria. This support is carried out through technical advisory, research, staff mentoring and capacity building of the FMoH and other partner agencies. The principal goal of this is to improve health data analytics in the health sector by reinforcing the institutional capacity of the departments and agencies entrusted with the responsibility of managing the Nigerian health information system.
To expand on the ongoing support, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, through the eHealth for everyone Foundation, is introducing the Health Data Analytics for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (HDA-MDA) research fellowship. The goal of this fellowship is to improve health data analytics for enhanced decision-making in Nigeria.
The objectives of the fellowship are to:
- Build capacity for data analytics
- Improve data visibility and analytics in the country
- Support the development and expansion of existing health data analytic platforms, such as the Multi-Source Data Analytics and Triangulation (MSDAT) platform.
- Provide findings that would influence policy and evidence based decision making in the health sector.
The fellowship will be available to staff of Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) to support research in the improvement of data analytics in Nigeria. Beneficiaries of the fellowship will receive the following:
- Stipends to fund data collection and analyses.
- Training/Webinars: All beneficiaries will have access to any series of training sessions organized by the fellowship committee. The training will be focused on educating beneficiaries on research methods, ethical considerations, research communications, scientific writing, literature review techniques, and proposal writing.
- Mentorship and support from the fellowship committee. This would translate into the provision of reviews and guidance during the course of their research.
Applicants must meet the following criteria to become a fellow:
- At least a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine, Public Health, Data Science, Statistics, Computer science or any related discipline. Five (5) years of experience working with health data will be considered an equivalent.
- Document(s) confirming their appointment as a staff of the FMoH or partner agency.
- A letter of attestation from the director of the applicant’s department.
- Evidence of prior experience in conducting research.
The research fellowship program will be managed by the fellowship committee – the eHealth for everyone Foundation- in conjunction with selected representatives of MDAs. This team will be responsible for candidate selection, workshop planning/delivery, disbursement of funds, and candidate mentorship. The team will come up with rules and regulations governing the conduct of the beneficiaries with respect to the research fellowship.
- Candidates would be required to carefully complete each section of the HDAFMDA fellowship form(s) and attach required documents. These include:
- Curriculum Vitae (CVs)
- Statement of purpose (maximum of 500 words),
- Research proposal/summary including timelines for execution: The research proposal justifying the chosen area of research would be required. This proposal should include the study design, a statement on the relevance of the research to improving data analytics, policy-making and/or future research interests.
- Letters of recommendation/representation from head of department
- Form(s) should be submitted by the stipulated due date.
- The fellowship committee will carefully review each proposal and make a final decision.
- Shortlisted candidates would be contacted for an interview with the fellowship committee
- Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and awards will be given on a quarterly basis.
If successful, applicants would be notified that they have been selected to receive the research grant, they must officially “accept” the offer via an email within 2 weeks.
Funds are to be used for the research work ONLY. Funds would possibly cover textbooks, equipment, publications, and data collection activities. Costs that are indirectly related to the research would need to be approved by the fellowship committee.
The research will prioritize secondary data and goals should be targeted towards improving Nigerian health data and data systems around the following key areas:
- Health Governance
- Health outcomes
- Health financing
- Health Workforce
- Population and demographics
- Health facility service availability and readiness
- Drugs and logistics
- Service delivery
- Health Impact
- Health surveillance
The research goals can be pursued using any of the following approaches:
- Data Management
- Visual Analytics
- Data Mining
- Data Integration
- Multi-source data collation
- Advanced analytics
- Open data advocacy
- Big Data for health
- Data demand and use
- Statistical modelling of health data
- Health Information System interoperability
- Geographic Information System (GIS)
- Artificial Intelligence
- Machine learning
Fellows would be required to submit progress reports to the fellowship committee at monthly intervals.
Progress reports serve to:
- Maintain contact between fellows and the fellowship committee;
- Help to initiate remedial action if needed;
- Provide fellows with a record of their activities, which will be useful in preparing their final report.
Within 6 months of signing on to the fellowship, beneficiaries are expected to complete a full body of research: literature review, data collection, collation & interpretation of results, and a text compilation of all the above. They will also be expected to present their research in a workshop where fellow researchers and members of the fellowship committee will be present.
The fellowship committee will not take sole credit for any outputs. However, all research outputs, and related materials or resources should be made available to the fellowship committee and for publication as applicable.
- The fellowship committee may at any time cancel or terminate a fellowship if a fellow inexplicably does not respond within 2 weeks of receiving a confirmation letter, or if it is inadvisable for the individual to continue to hold a fellowship. Reasons could include disability due to physical and/or mental health challenges; an arrest, charge, or criminal conviction; changes in study/research subject; unsatisfactory performance; failure to keep the committee informed through the submission of monthly progress reports; and inappropriate use or misappropriation of fellowship funds.
- A breach of the conditions of a fellowship occurs when any of the requirements are not met.
In the event of a breach, the fellow will be liable to reimburse eHealth for everyone, all fellowship funds paid, stipends, book grants, and all other allowances and payments, depending on the offence.
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