South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
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Biostatistics Unit


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Health Geographical Information Systems Centre (Health GIS Centre) 

The Health GIS Centre has been part of the Biostatistics Unit since 1 April 2014. According to the World Health Organisation, GIS or geographic information systems, "provide an excellent means of analysing epidemiological data, revealing trends, dependencies and inter-relationships that would be more difficult to discover in tabular format". The technology provides a mechanism to integrate different data sets, analyse their spatial and statistical components, and model possible scenarios, thereby supporting interdisciplinary research. Its use will encourage the ongoing collection and analysis of accurate spatial and statistical data for disease control and resource distribution. Its use requires appropriate data, mechanisms for distribution, as well as expertise and technical support.

The aims of the Health GIS Centre are the following: - click to view information
  • to develop an MRC-wide GIS capability in order to support contributions to national public health by initiating research  collaborations with research units and programmes
  • to contribute to the development of Health GIS as a discipline through the use of geospatial tools, techniques and methods in study design, data analysis and the geographical interpretation of research outcomes
  • to develop capacity within appropriate sectors and amongst individuals within the research community
  • to develop a GIS data repository containing data of relevance to health research
  • to embrace technological advancements in the geosciences in the development of data management, mapping and dissemination tools and approaches
Services - click to view information
  • Advice on GIS components of projects;
  • Spatial database consultations;
  • Supply and source spatial databases;
  • Digitising capabilities;
  • Assistance with GPS;
  • Run introductory GIS courses

Since the MRC's GIS Centre houses numerous useful GIS data sets, many once-off requests (maps and analysis) are undertaken for both MRC and outside organisations.

Costs - click to view information
Research projects funded from the MRC baseline budget are supported free of charge whereas research funded by Non-MRC sources are supported on a fee for service basis. In this regard a formal quotation is provided and signed for the work to be done. 
Ethics - click to view information
All projects supported by the BU should have formal ethical approval from a recognized national or international institution in prior to engagement by any staff member of the Unit.
Training - click to view information

The  Health GIS Centre can be  approached to assist with or provide training

  • in the areas of desktop GIS for mapping and spatial analysis
  • use of GPS for field data capture, use of mobile technologies for navigation and data collection,
  • management of GPS coordinate data.

The Centre also develops training manuals, training presentation material, data collection tools, SOPs, technical guidelines and hardware management tools specific to hardware acquired for projects and tailored to the particular requirements of a project.

Person to contact for GIS support: - click to view information

Ms Natashia Morris

+27 31 203 4796


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Last updated:
29 February, 2016
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