Two IIITD Faculty are helping improve the Data Quality in Health and Demographic data in India


New Delhi: ICMR part of the Department of Health Research – Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India recently launched National Data Quality Forum (NDQF) with the goal of establishing protocols and good practices during data collection, storage, use and dissemination of health and demographic data. Lot of policy decisions are made using the health and demographic data collected at the national level, to have reproducible results and strong generalizability of the data, it is necessary to have high-quality data. NDQF created a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to help them develop strategies and methodologies for improving the data quality. Two faculty members of Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi (IIIT-Delhi), got selected as panel members for The National Data Quality Forum (NDQF), an initiative launched by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). IIIT-Delhi’s Tavpritesh Sethi, Assistant Professor of Computational Biology and Ponnurangam Kumaraguru, Professor of Computer Science are members of TAG.

“There are enormous costs associated with gathering healthcare data and the NDQF initiative is very timely for improving quality. Technological, social and analytical computing will need to go hand-in-hand as India moves towards realizing the Digital Health Blueprint. This close-knit integration is what IIITD excels at and our lab will work closely with NIMS for designing contextual AI and Data Science approaches to improving data quality,” says Prof. Tavpritesh Sethi.

NDQF will integrate learnings from scientific and evidence-based initiatives and guide actions through periodic workshops and conferences. The NDQF was launched in collaboration between the government research body’s National Institute for Medical Statistics and global nonprofit organization Population Council. The aim of the initiative is to improve the quality of health and demographic data in the country. The 25-member strong team will collect data that would be translated into insights and eventually into policy through a layered process involving human and technological inputs at every stage.

“NDQF is a great initiate, I am super excited to be part of the TAG, in particular, there is so much discussion around Data in the country. To list a few, Data Protection Bill that recently got

approved by the Cabinet, Government of India committee on non-Personal Data, Health care

data, etc. Data is and will be the primary source by which intelligent decisions will be made, so

finding ways to improve the quality of the data is of utmost importance, which is the focal point

of NDQF’s TAG, “ says Prof. Ponnurangam Kumaraguru.

According to the ICMR, this platform would be guided by the direction provided by a high-level steering committee and operationalized with the help of a technical expert advisory group. The biggest challenge to data collection in the country is inaccurate reporting and lack of electronic data. The effort will be to sort it out and make sure that the country benefit from these efforts. Machine learning and artificial intelligence will play a big role in data collection and standardization.

The NDQF is an integrated national-level platform that aims to improve the quality of health and demographic data by generating meaningful dialogue around the improvement of data quality in general, and for health and medical research in particular. It will bring all relevant stakeholders, subject matter experts, industry leaders, decision makers, and data scientists/analysts on a common platform for discussing improvements in the quality of data ecosystem in India.

NDQF’s activities will help establish protocols and good practices of data collection, storage, use and dissemination that can be applied to health and demographic data, as well as can be replicated across other industries and sectors also.