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President of the University of Sousse Tunisia Recommends VODAN Africa


On Friday, July 23rd, 2021, the President of the University of Sousse, Tunisia, Pr. Lotfi Belkacem, gave a powerful recommendation to the VODAN Africa Team in Tunisia. The University of Sousse is one of the pioneer institutions that partnered with VODAN Africa from its inception. This recommendation gives credence to the great efforts of the VODAN African Team in Tunisia.

The Tunisian team led by Dr. Mariem Ghardallou and Ms. Morgane Wirtz have been at the forefront of the development of machine-actionable research data. Last year, they created FAIRified data (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable data) by interviewing 124 respondents from Agadez (Niger); Tunis, Sousse, Sfax, Zarzis, Kalibia, Djerba, Kerkennah, Medinine (Tunisia), and Libya. They also worked on about 565  press articles published from May to mid-September 2020 on the situation of migrants in the Central Mediterranean region. These data were used to create data repositories, catalogs, datasets, and distribution for the FAIR Data Point (FDP) in Tunisia.

"The experience of the University of Sousse with the VODAN Africa network on the FAIRification process of research data helped to more draw the epidemiological situation on COVID 19 in Tunisia. In fact, these research data focused on a very vulnerable and hard-to-reach population, which is Migrants. 
Currently, we hope that this significant added value of VODAN Africa can be extended to health data when it can integrate  the national system of health information, still concerning the pandemic COVID-19", said Dr. Mariem Ghardallou

Read the full letter by the President of the University of Sousse, Tunisia, Pr. Lotfi Belkacem

Sousse, Tunisia, July 23, 2021

Letter of Recommendation

To Whom it may concern,

The Virus Outbreak Data Network - Africa is providing the expertise to strengthen the primary health-care system in (country, Africa) in view of the COVID-19 pandemic which hits Africa hard. A lack of data made the crisis invisible on the continent. The pandemic is hitting the people of our continent. The situation has created increased awareness of the urgency of improvement on generating digital health data. This will help us to respond effectively to the crisis and to other health challenges.

VODAN-Africa provides us with a System for Health Information that complements existing systems. It builds on systems we already have in place.

The strength of the System of Health Information facilitated by VODAN-Africa is that it is fully compliant with our domestic regulatory frameworks and adheres to the highest standards of international personal data protection.

Whilst recognizing data sovereignty and ownership of data, the possibility of the studying of the data is advanced by the new concept of data-visiting under conditions of permission granted to the researcher. I recommend the VODAN-Africa research group without reservation,


Pr. Lotfi Belkacem
President of the University of Sousse, Tunisia