Open data and public health

Marcelo D’Agostino, Noah O. Samuel, Maria Janina Sarol, Federico G. de Cosio, Myrna Marti, Tianyu Luo, Ian Brooks, Marcos Espinal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This article provides an overview of the intersection of open data and public health by first defining open government data, public health data, and other key concepts and relevant terminologies. There are differing perceptions on the urgency and importance of the openness of public health data. It has been established that disease outbreaks such as happened during the Ebola and Zika virus epidemics are indicative of the need for countries to develop a framework that will provide guidance for the management of public health data. Such a framework should ensure that data collected during public health emergencies are accessible to the appropriate authorities and in a form that can help with timely decision-making during such public health crises. In this article, we highlight available open data policies across many countries, including in the Americas. Our analysis shows that there are currently no articulated policy guidelines for the collection and management of public health data across many countries, especially in Latin America. We propose that any national data governance strategy must address potential benefits, possible risks, examples of data that could be shared, and the attributes of such data. Finally, we stress that the key concern in the Americas should be the development of regional frameworks for open data in public health that can be adopted or adapted by each country through appropriate national or subnational policies and strategies.


  • Confidentiality
  • Data sources
  • Health systems
  • Information systems
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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