Survey on accuracy of government COVID-19 data wake-up call for DOH— UP prof

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 30 2020 04:48 PM | Updated as of Oct 30 2020 06:09 PM

MANILA - The survey showing that Filipinos are divided on the accuracy of government data on COVID-19 infections in the country should be a wake up call to the Department of Health, a professor said Friday. 

"'Yung data namin galing sa DOH 'yan. Ang important point dito, a number of Filipinos think na 'yung data is least accurate, this should be a wake up call sa atin, DOH in particular," said University of the Philippines professor Ranjit Rye of the OCTA research group, which analyzes and makes predictions on the country's COVID-19 data.

(We get our data from the DOH. The important point here is that a number of Filipinos think that the data is least accurate, this should be a wake up call for us, to the DOH in particular.)

A Social Weather Stations survey released Thursday showed that out of 1,249 adult Filipinos surveyed, 39 percent said they believe the country's COVID-19 tally was "probably more than the real number," while 31 percent said it was "probably less than the real number," and 23 percent said it was "probably right."

The September 17 to 20 poll also found "no census" on the accuracy of the health department's data on COVID-19 deaths. Some 34 percent of respondents said it was probably over-reported, another 34 percent said it was probably underreported, and 27 percent said it was probably right.

“Nakakabahala din. Ang challenge dito 'yung messaging at pag recalibrate ng Department of Health sa datos nila. Importante na maayos nila sitwasyon para maka-respond d'yan sa nakitang impormasyon sa survey na 'yan,” said Rye in an interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(It’s alarming. The challenge here is the messaging and for the Department of Health to recalibrate their data. It is important that they respond to the information found in the survey.)

Rye noted that the health department encountered problems at the start of the pandemic, particularly when it came to the backlog of cases.

“By and large naniniwala kami na sinasabi naman nila ay totoo. Nagi-improve po 'yung data gathering nila at doon pumapasok inisyatiba ng maraming mga grupo,” he said.

(By and large we believe that what they are saying is true. Their data gathering has improved and that’s where the initiative of many groups comes in.)

He said groups like OCTA and the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team can help DOH present the best or almost accurate picture of the state of the pandemic in the country.

“Yun ang kailangang gawin ng DOH, magtulungan with other groups para mas lalong magtiwala ang mga tao doon sa datos,” he said.

(That’s what the DOH needs to do so that people would trust its data more.) 

Rye said the DOH is trying to continuously improve its data collection.

“Maybe it has to improve also the way it presents data to the Filipino people. It has to be in ways that are simple for all of us to understand and they should coordinate more with the universities kasi kung may legitimacy issue sa Department of Health makakatulong talaga ang mag coordinate, cooperate, collaborate po sila sa mga unibersidad,” he said.

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He also underscored the need to put funds in pandemic surveillance.
“'Yun ang kailangan natin bigyan ng pansin lalo na at nagbukas na tayo, nagdesisyon na tayo bilang isang bansa na magtutulungan tayong magbukas ng ekonomiya para magkaroon tayo ng kabuhayan kailangang mas mapaigting yung pandemic surveillance,” he said.

(We have to strengthen pandemic surveillance especially since we're opening up the economy to generate jobs.)
Rye also reminded the public not to be complacent and to always follow minimum health protocols.