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Tropical data

What is Tropical Data?

Tropical Data is a global initiative helping countries to collect high-quality, standardised prevalence data on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by supporting health ministries from the start to the end of the survey process.

Using the same standardised approach and technology as the Global Trachoma Mapping Project (GTMP), Tropical Data supports work in some of the world’s most remote and difficult environments, helping countries on their path to eliminate these diseases. Tropical Data currently supports countries to carry out baseline, impact, surveillance and TT-only surveys for trachoma, with work under way to support surveys for other NTDs.

Tropical Data offers support through each step of the survey process. However, country programmes are responsible for delivering and funding in-country implementation under the ownership of their Ministry of Health.

Tropical Data provide:

• epidemiological support for the survey protocol development and sampling using WHO approved methodology

• planning and budgeting support if required

• qualified trainers and bespoke training support

• support with data collection, storage, cleaning, approvals and analysis

We ensure outputs are of the highest quality.

Diagram showing the Tropical Data process as described below (Click to enlarge)

A Tropical Data survey involves in its entirety ( not just one of these aspects in isolation of the others):

  • Scientific review of protocols by dedicated subject-specific epidemiologists, with WHO sign-off that the protocol conforms to WHO guidance and guidelines

  • Standardised training,including standardised training manuals, certification of trainees, and quality assurance processes so there is confidence in the quality of the survey data collection process

  • Electronic data capture, with standardised data collection fields ensuring programmatically-actionable data and limiting data entry errors and loss

  • Near-real-time data cleaning using automated data cleaning algorithms and a dedicated data team, enabled by automatic, encrypted data upload to a secure central server, facilitating feedback to teams whilst in the field

  • Standardised data analyses using automated algorithms and/or specialist,objective data managers, ensuring all surveys have the same outputs

  • Data review undertaken by both specialist data managers and one or more designated health ministry personnel

  • Prevalence results shared to inform programme planning

  • Capacity building through national and international trainings, and resources available on the website, such as budget templates, protocol guidelines, training manuals, and data download guides

  • Scientific oversight of the whole process,ensuring quality assurance and quality control at every stage

Detailed Resources to support health ministries are available on the Tropical Data website which includes:

  • Project Planning and protocols

  • Training system for trachoma prevalence surveys

  • Training system for TT-only surveys

  • Data Management:

  • Website navigation

  • How to download and access data

  • Demo project - expanded trichiasis and district reports

Where are data stored? As with the GTMP, all the data are owned by the country and accessed through a secure web portal. The data are stored, in encrypted form, on a section of a cloud-based server dedicated to the project.

The trachoma data can be automatically transferred to the joint WHO/ITI GET2020 database so that WHO and International Trachoma Initiative staff can help with applications for donated drugs and the completion of dossiers for validation. District-level prevalence category data are also used to update the open-access Global Atlas of Trachoma and the ESPEN portal.

What are the advantages of the service?

Save money: Having current and accurate data can save substantial programme costs. With data cleaned and analysed in near-real time, you’ll have the information you need to properly allocate resources in-country in a timely manner. The service is also free to use and provides significant support at every step of the survey process.

Quality: Our proven approach to supporting globally standardised, epidemiologically robust prevalence surveys, with quality assurance and quality control from the start to the end of the process, ensures quality data for programmatic decision-making and supporting disease control, elimination or eradication claims.

Go with the global standard: Because of its globally standardised training and certification systems, survey protocols that conform to WHO recommendations, field methodologies, and data cleaning process, you and your partners will have confidence in the data generated through Tropical Data.

Who’s behind the Tropical Data service?

The team behind the service includes the International Trachoma Initiative, RTI International, Sightsavers and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, collaborating closely with WHO, governments, donors, academic institutions, NGOs and other implementing partners to achieve high-quality outcomes.

As you read this article, you will recognise that the word “standardised” is used several times. What does this mean and why is it important for eliminating trachoma?

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Eliminating Trachoma

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

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