Botswana, like many other low middle income countries, suffers from current critical shortage of qualified biostatisticians. This has impacted negatively on policies and decision making processes that require statistical guidance and expertise. For example, many health institutions have a considerable amount of secondary data but to date information contained in these data remain unclear simply due to lack of biostatistics specialists. Collaborative work between Princess Marina Hospital, a leading HIV Referral Hospital in Botswana, and American universities like the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Universities, have so far been limited in bringing in foreign biostatisticians to extract electronic data for analysis and interpretation. The situation is exacerbated by that, University o Botswana, the leading institution in the country, does not have a biostatistics program either offered at undergraduate and/or graduate level or as a short course. This has led to the departments that require biostatistics training to offer their students biostatistics related courss such as Qualitative Biology. However, these biostatistics-related courses are not tailor-made for research which results in students missing out especially that they need biostatistics background to carry out scientific research. It is, therefore, imperative to develop and run a biostatistics course for these departments. To date, the authors are aware of only seven (7) trained biostatisticians in the whole country. To meet the demand for bio-statistical experts, we propose setting up a training program for biostatisticians at graduate level through which we can build bio-statistical capacity and train expert methodologists who will help in the design of appropriate studies in the areas such as HIV, cancers, etc. As a collaborative effort between Faculty of Health Sciences and Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Botswana (UB), with mentoring from the University of Pennsylvania's Division of Biostatistics this grant proposal will be preparatory towards developing a short and long-term biostatistics training curricula at the University of Botswana. This grant application if successful shall be used to facilitate bringing together all stakeholders in health-related disciplines to draw up a relevant curriculum towards establishment of a biostatistics program at UB. Therefore, this grant if successful, will help us: i) to develop biostatistics curricula in order to increase the pool of qualified biostatisticians who meet the educational and collaborative research need in Botswana, and ii) to develop relevant basic biostatistics courses for undergraduate and graduate non-biostatistics students for work on research projects.
The project seeks to develop biostatistics curricula. Biostatistics provides tools necessary for designing and analyzing data emanating from health studies. Public health in-turn is informed by the findings of data analysis. Advocacy for institutig a biostatistics program in low and middle income countries is critical in that it is likely to enhace their standards of public health.