De Lima urges Senate to investigate DOH’s COVID-19 faulty data reporting


Share on facebook
Share on twitter

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has sought a Senate investigation into the various problems affecting the reliability of the Department of Health’s (DOH) data reporting which directly impacts the government’s management and targeted response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

De Lima, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 443 directing the appropriate Senate committee to address the serious issues concerning DOH’s COVID-19 inaccurate data reporting.

“Accurate and up-to date data about COVID-19 and the resources the country has in the fight to survive the global pandemic is vital not only in policy-making, but as well as in upholding the right of the people to information on matters of public concern,” she said.

“The serious issues and concerns regarding the integrity of the data being reported by the government must be resolved to secure public trust in the plans, decisions, and pronouncements of the government and its private partners,” she added.

Last May 12, the University of the Philippines COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team last May 12 revealed alarming errors in the data reports provided by the DOH on the COVID-19 statistics, including unreconciled differences in numbers between DOH and LGUs, and inconsistencies in the patient-level data and the use of date formats in the agency’s data drop on COVID-19 cases.

Roughly two weeks after, the DOH admitted the said data errors in a hearing conducted by the House of Representatives, saying that that the country is experiencing 12-day backlogs in the outcome of samples from COVID-19 tests, and the agency is facing challenges in ensuring that the data being reported is real-time.

More than two months from the time Mr. Duterte declared a nationwide State of Calamity, De Lima lamented how the DOH is still at the stage of making an attempt to provide real-time data despite the continued backlogs in the testing results previously conducted.

Citing a news report, De Lima noted that the DOH missed its usual scheduled briefing and reporting on the latest COVID-19 cases last May 29  because the agency started identifying the number of “fresh” or new cases, as well as those that came from the testing backlog.

If the government hopes to formulate an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, De Lima emphasized that governments must be perceived as trustworthy by citizens.

“The DOH and their faulty reporting have contributed to the erosion of public trust in the Philippine government and have pushed us into further disarray as the quarantine level has been downgraded to a more relaxed General Community Quarantine (GCQ) to kickstart the economy in Metro Manila,” she said.

“An up-to-date and transparent reporting system would eliminate any suspicion of data manipulation for purposes of political gains,” she added.

De Lima also stressed that the speed and timeliness of how such data is released is equally critical because it can help experts “in formulating possible solutions to the crisis,” the leaders “in steering the country in important decision-making,” and the public “in assessing the true magnitude of the situation.”

“There is a need for the DOH to heed the call of experts to share relevant and up-to-date data that can help capable institutions make scientific assessments for discussions on the evolving crisis to come up with better peer-reviewed science in their data reporting of COVID-19 cases in the country,” she said. (30)

Office of Senator Leila de Lima
Rm. 502 & 16 (New Wing 5/F) GSIS Bldg., Financial Center, Diokno Blvd., Pasay City

Trunk Lines:
(632) 552-6601 to 70 local no. 5750

Direct Lines:
807-8489 / (Rm. 16) 807-8580 /local 8619

© 2019 Office of Sen. Leila de Lima. All rights reserved.