PEPFAR Scholarship to Fund Scholars to Use Data to Improve Health and Promote Economic Empowerment
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – The University of Dar es Salaam, College of Information and Communication Technology (UDSM CoICT) and the Tanzania Data Lab (dLab) recently signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) extending CoICT’s commitment to host the dLab for at least five more years. The agreement also formalizes the dLab’s support in operationalizing CoICT’s recently launched Masters of Science in Data Science (MSDS), the first such Masters in Data Science in East Africa. The dLab was started by the Data Collaboratives for Local Impact program, funded by the U.S. Government’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and implemented by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). DCLI engages and builds skills among individuals, communities and organizations to solve problems related to HIV/AIDS, health, gender equality and economic growth.
CoICT created the MSDS in response to the interest generated amongst students on campus in dLab activities, broadly among Tanzanian youth. In turn, DCLI enabled a partnership between the dLab and the University of Virginia Data Science Institute to ensure that the MSDS program can access a global exchange of knowledge and expertise in applied data science. CoICT faculty and students will be able to take online classes, collaborate on research, and network to solve pressing problems. In honor of this first cohort of MSDS students – and in celebration of PEPFAR’s 15th anniversary – DCLI will be funding up to five PEPFAR Scholars to attend the MSDS; they will receive full scholarships and will focus their practicum on helping to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Tanzania.
Launched in April 2016, the dLab is a center of excellence and data collaboration that promotes data literacy and innovation and enables Tanzanians to use data to address health and sustainability priorities, including contributing to sustainable control of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It is strategically located at UDSM CoICT.
Data analysis helps to better understand the dynamics of the HIV/AIDS epidemic allowing Tanzanians to have better access to HIV services which complements PEPFAR programs. Since PEPFAR’s inception in Tanzania in 2003, AIDS-related deaths decreased 70% and HIV programs in Tanzania prevented 1.1 million new infections and 690,000 deaths. This shift has emphasized the importance of data and data literacy for community workers, health professionals, and individuals, so that they may help in attaining an AIDS-free generation.
In 2015 MCC and PEPFAR created the Data Collaboratives for Local Impact (DCLI) program to help achieve sustainable epidemic control and to build upon the strengths of both agencies. DCLI first launched in Tanzania to build the capacity of individuals, communities and organizations to use data and technology to help fight HIV/AIDS, improve health, promote gender equality, keep children in school, and contribute to economic empowerment, all of which are factors related HIV/AIDs risks. Through the DLI Innovation Challenge, Data Zetu(which promotes data use at the local level through art, design, and music), and the dLab (a space that fosters data literacy, innovation and collaboration), DCLI has surfaced local data-driven solutions across Tanzania. In May, MCC and PEPFAR expanded the DCLI program to Côte d’Ivoire to improve data literacy to help with PEPFAR priorities in a second country, while concurrently leveraging opportunities of the MCC Compact.