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Short item Published on March 10, 2016

Understanding leprosy trends

Leprosy is caused by infection with Mycobacterium leprae and is characterized by peripheral nerve damage and skin lesions. Globally, new case detection rates for leprosy have remained fairly stable in the past decade, with India responsible for more than half of cases reported annually. We took a statistical look at recent annual new case detection trends reported by the government of India’s National Leprosy Eradication Programme. We found evidence of a very slow declining trend, but with substantial differences between districts. Enhancements in current public health policy must be undertaken to hasten the decline of leprosy.

Short item Published on March 10, 2016

Update: Compensating miners for the burden of lung disease

In the SACEMA Quarterly of November 2015 we published an item from Alide Dasnois about compensating miners for the burden of lung disease. On 6 March 2016 City Press published an article titled “Silicosis claims: Anglo has to cough up nearly R500m” which reports on a first step in the process of paying the individual claims.

Short item Published on March 10, 2016

Vacancies at SACEMA

SACEMA has currently several vacancies both at Masters and PhD level. SACEMA is looking to appoint up to two strong quantitative analysts into contract positions (deadline for application: 14 March 2016) and is also inviting applications from ambitious postdoctoral scientists to conduct high-impact statistical and dynamical modelling work in public health (applications on ongoing basis).

Short item Published on November 30, 2015

Compensating miners for the burden of lung disease

Alide Dasnois, a South African journalist and former editor of the Cape Times, has written an an article titled “The long battle to get the mines to cough up” which is about compensating miners for the burden of lung disease. The importance of this issue has been highlighted before in a SACEMA Quarterly article by Tony Davies giving an historical overview on occupational lung disease in South Africa.

Short item Published on November 30, 2015

Book review: Houston, We Have a Narrative

In the September 2015 SACEMA Quarterly, we published an editorial on the importance of interactive storytelling in epidemiology as well as a short on narratives and paradigms. When we came across a review of the book Houston, We Have a Narrative by Randy Olson, we thought that this would be interesting to share with you as well. The reviewer Rafael E. Luna is the author of The Art of Scientific Storytelling: Transform Your Research Manuscript with a Step-By-Step Formula.

Short item Published on November 30, 2015

Modelling big “N” spatiotemporal data

In modelling hierarchical data we can take into account spatial and temporal correlations by introducing spatiotemporal random effects in the model. Several other hurdles have to be overcome when modelling hierarchical mortality data, but Bayesian techniques with the aid of the Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) simulation methods have successfully overcome these and fit spatiotemporal random effects for reasonably sized geo-locations. However, as the number of geo-locations increases, MCMC computations become infeasible or extremely slow, which is a norm in Big Data Analytics (BDA). This problem is popularly known as the “big m” or “big N”.

Short item Published on September 15, 2015

Trends in AIDS deaths, new infections and ART coverage in the top 30 countries with the highest AIDS mortality burden for 1990-2013

We assess here the potential effect of expanded HIV treatment for the prevention of AIDS-related deaths. We analyzed the available UNAIDS data to describe AIDS-related deaths, ART coverage and new HIV infections in 30 countries with the highest AIDS mortality burden and compared it with data from eight high-income countries. For illustrative purposes, we also explored the potential impact of reaching international treatment expansion targets in South Africa and Nigeria- two countries with the largest HIV epidemics, but with different trends of AIDS-related deaths over time – through the examination of four treatment expansion scenarios.

Short item Published on September 15, 2015

Narratives and Paradigms: The nature of scientific thinking

The relationship between narrative and paradigmatic thinking in science, at least in the world of natural philosophy and natural history, is crucial and yet seldom explicitly stated and rarely understood. Creativity in science lies primarily in the narrative mode of thinking and it is here that new discoveries are made and new ideas are found. While we should find ways to develop narrative thinking when teaching science we must also ensure that our students develop the necessary skills to manipulate the paradigmatic formulations of their theories.

Short item Published on September 15, 2015

Short course on Bayesian analysis of longitudinal studies

Prof. Emmanuel Lesaffre of the Leuven Biostatistics and Statistical Bioinformatics Centre, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, will be presenting an intensive course on Bayesian analysis of longitudinal studies on 26 and 27 November 2015 at Stellenbosch University. The course will be oriented towards an applied audience with a good knowledge of various regression models.

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