USINGA (Umlazi Health and Demographic Surveillance System) plays a pivotal role as part of the South African Population Research Infrastructure Network (SAPRIN) located in Umlazi, a region situated south of Durban. Functioning as a comprehensive Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS), USINGA operates as a standardised and comprehensive field-based information system and research platform. It collects prospective data from entire populations at both individual and household levels in communities facing developmental constraints.
The primary scientific objective of USINGA is to generate crucial insights into population health and well-being. These insights enable the timely and effective implementation of policies, programs, and interventions that leverage the demographic dividend for the advancement of community development. To achieve this, USINGA examines the structural, behavioural, and biological factors that influence health and socio-economic outcomes. Ultimately, the aim is to enhance the quality of life for the community. In addition to its core function of data collection and dissemination, USINGA seeks to establish a platform for community-driven research interventions, ensuring that the community actively participates in shaping the research agenda.
The establishment of USINGA involved collaboration between the University of KwaZulu-Natal and various institutions and stakeholders, including Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT), Durban University of Technology (DUT), the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), eThekwini Municipality, and the Department of Social Development. The data collection hub for the project is located at MUT, serving as a central hub for gathering and analysing the data collected by USINGA. USINGA started baseline data collection in 2023.
USINGA conducts longitudinal data collection in Umlazi Wards 79 and 82, encompassing the entire population residing in these wards. Umlazi is characterized by a significant youth population, high levels of unemployment, poverty, and a notable prevalence of HIV/AIDS. The community has also faced multiple social, economic, and environmental challenges, including floods, social unrest, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of which pose threats to the well-being of its residents. Given the distinctive youth demographic and lower-income status of Umlazi, USINGA places a primary research focus on understanding the health and well-being of the youth within this community. Community engagement and participation activities are facilitated by a community advisory board, comprising members from each voting district within the targeted wards. This board ensures that the voices and perspectives of the community are actively incorporated into the research activities and decision-making processes of USINGA.
Get in touch via Nzimanden@ukzn.ac.za