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The PLoS Medicine Debate

The PLoS Medicine Debate The PLOS Medicine Debate discusses important but controversial issues in clinical practice, public health policy, or health in general. Debates will be commissioned from two or more authors with differing points of view.

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Should Data from Demographic Surveillance Systems Be Made More Widely Available to Researchers?

  • Daniel Chandramohan,
  • Kenji Shibuya,
  • Philip Setel,
  • Sandy Cairncross,
  • Alan D Lopez,
  • Christopher J. L Murray,
  • Basia Żaba,
  • Robert W Snow,
  • Fred Binka
  • Published: February 26, 2008
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0050057

Reader Comments (2)

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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
E-mail: peter.byass@epiph.umu.se
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.