The South African Population Research Infrastructure Network (SAPRIN), together with the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), recently released its first population dataset. The dataset monitors the health and wellbeing of people over time to gather new information on the situation of poorer South Africans.  This dataset is another major win for SAPRIN to provide user friendly and dynamic data in real time.

Responding to some of South Africa’s biggest issues which include poverty, inequality, unemployment and poor access to effective health care, this is the first dataset to be released by SAPRIN since its inception in 2017. A national research platform, SAPRIN must produce the most up-to-date data representative of South Africa’s population. This data is then tested to provide hard evidence, which is provided to policy makers to influence programmes in the Department of Health, Social Development, Home Affairs, Basic Education, and others.

“This dataset has the potential to improve informational support for decision-making and for strengthening policies on health and socio-economic status,” says SAPRIN Network’s Co-Director, Prof. Collinson. “It is a national asset that will support research on population and health dynamics for us to understand the causes and outcomes of population processes and strengthen the value of national datasets.”

The dataset contains information that has been harmonised from the three Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) nodes (research networks) located in rural South Africa, namely: South African Medical Research Council/ Wits University Agincourt HDSS in Bushbuckridge District, Mpumalanga which has collected data since 1993; the University of Limpopo DIMAMO HDSS in the Capricorn District of Limpopo, which has collected data since 1996; and the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) HDSS in uMkhanyakude District, KwaZulu-Natal which has collected data since 2000.

“A core database structure was developed by SAPRIN leadership in collaboration with data managers from the three HDSS nodes (research networks), whereby data from the nodes were passed through a series of quality measures and checked for accuracy and completeness,” adds Prof. Collinson.

“This dataset is an important resource for secondary analyses by population scientists and as a training dataset for the next generation of population scientists,” says SAPRIN Director Dr Kobus Herbst. He added that while this data is from three geographically-defined rural areas, the Network will shortly be expanded to include new urban HDSS nodes.

Individual and household indicators that are regularly collected and assessed include: vital events such as births and deaths, residence and migration, socio-economic status, and measures of wellbeing represented by labour status, education and social protection. The data and findings can be applied widely to South Africa’s population.

The SAPRIN dataset is now being shared with the scientific community via the SAPRIN Data Source: