The South African Population Research Infrastructure Network (SAPRIN), together with the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), recently released its first population dataset.


The dataset monitors the health and wellbeing of people over time in order to gather new information on the situation of poorer South Africans.


Responding to some of South Africa's biggest issues – including poverty, inequality, unemployment, and lack of access to effective health care – this is the first dataset to be released by SAPRIN since its inception in 2017.


SAPRIN is a national research platform that aims to produce up-to-date information on health and socio-economic wellbeing that is representative of South Africa's population. It is hosted by the SAMRC and falls under the ambit of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap – a programme of the Department of Science and Technology (DST).


The data harvested by SAPRIN will be tested to provide hard evidence to policy makers in order to influence programmes in the Departments of Health, Social Development, Home Affairs, Basic Education, and others.


Individual and household indicators that are regularly collected and assessed cover vital events such as births and deaths, residence and migration, socio-economic status, and measures of wellbeing represented by labour status, education, and social protection. The data and findings can be applied widely to South Africa's population.


"This dataset has the potential to improve informational support for decision-making and for strengthening policies on health and socio-economic status," says SAPRIN Network's Co-Director, Prof. Mark Collinson.


"It is a national asset that will support research on population and health dynamics for us to understand the causes and outcomes of population processes and strengthen the value of national datasets."


The dataset contains information that has been harmonised from three health and demographic surveillance system (HDSS) nodes (research networks) located in rural South Africa, namely: the SAMRC/Wits University Agincourt HDSS in the Bushbuckridge District of Mpumalanga, which has collected data since 1993; the University of Limpopo's DIMAMO HDSS in the Capricorn District of Limpopo, which has collected data since 1996; and the Africa Health Research Institute's HDSS in the uMkhanyakude District of KwaZulu-Natal, which has collected data since 2000.


"A core database structure was developed by SAPRIN leadership in collaboration with data managers from the three HDSS nodes, whereby data from the nodes were passed through a series of quality measures and checked for accuracy and completeness," explains Prof. Collinson.


SAPRIN Director Dr Kobus Herbst says the dataset "is an important resource for secondary analyses by population scientists and as a training dataset for the next generation of population scientists".


He adds that while SAPRIN's data is currently drawn from three geographically defined rural areas, the network will soon be expanded to include new urban HDSS nodes.




FAIR guiding principles were used in the development of the SAPRIN Data Source to ensure that the data is Findable, Accessible, Exchangeable and Reusable. The SAPRIN dataset is now being shared with the scientific community via the Data Source


Issued by the SAMRC and the Department of Science and Technology


For more information, please contact Keletso Ratsela (SAMRC) at 071 214 5272 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Veronica Mohapeloa (DST) at 083 400 5750 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.