Big Data. Local Impact. Healthy Lives.

Improving the use of health data for local decision-making in Malawi and Ontario

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The greatest health challenges are often faced by the world’s most vulnerable. Marginalized and underserved populations living in Canada and the Global South, including those living in remote, rural and Indigenous communities, face similarly high burdens of disease and unequal access to quality health services. Innovation and action are needed to overcome these barriers to health and prosperity. Incremental gains will not close entrenched health inequities. The Big Data revolution has the potential to transform healthcare delivery in and improve health outcomes for people living in low resource settings around the world. However, the potential for a leap forward relies on the quality of local data, access to and utilization of data and human capacity, and the adoption of innovative digital technology. From a rural African health centre managing an evolving HIV epidemic and the early effects of climate-induced malnutrition, to a remote Canadian Indigenous community facing staggering rates of hypertension, diabetes and mental health disorders, the true global impact of Big Data to improve health is yet unrealized.

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To examine the potential for Big Data to unlock innovation in healthcare delivery, leading to locally relevant breakthroughs. We will evaluate health informatics initiatives designed to address some of the world’s biggest health challenges. Our overarching aim is to study the use of local data where health improvements must happen – at local health facilities and local community programs. Our Canadian and international cross sectoral initiative aims to sustainably take Big Data analytics to the last mile.

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Northern Ontario and Malawi

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February 2018

January 2020

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Connaught Global Challenge Award

Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority
Cancer Care Ontario
University of Malawi
Malawi Ministry of Health

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Innovation Team

Jessica Gallant
i2i Fellow

Laura Derksen
i2i Lead Mentor

Anita McGahan
i2i Lead Mentor

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For more information, please contact Jessica Gallant at