STATEMENT ON CONCERNS RE DATA MANAGEMENT AND REPORTING

We take note of the concerns raised regarding the data management and reporting of the Department of Health (DOH).

As we have stated in previous occasions, the fight against COVID-19 entails a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach. The DOH cannot do it alone.  Neither can the Executive branch. We need the leadership and cooperation of the local government units (LGUs), our front-liners on the grassroots in this battle, as well as our health care providers, and laboratories.

The day-to-day response to the pandemic--from enforcement of public health measures, contact tracing, quarantine of close contacts, early isolation of those with symptoms, testing, and management of cases--are led by our local government units, with support from national government agencies. Because data concerning these functions that are needed to make timely decisions originates from the LGUs, delays in reporting these data to the national government do not, and should not in any way, compromise speed and agility of local action.

The timeliness and integrity of the national data are only as good as the submission of our partners on the ground--laboratories, hospitals and LGUs. Over the last few months, reporting delays have been significantly reduced and we are committed to continuing our response and efforts. The Department of Information and Communications Technology is currently leading government-wide automation of information systems so real-time data will be made available.

The DOH has also clarified previously that the daily bulletin shows the cases and deaths reported, not when the patient began having symptoms and/or when the patient actually died. Since this is the method that has been in place since January, it is deemed fair and appropriate to continue this method of reporting.

In addition, the DOH has started releasing data and graphs that reflect cases based on onset of illness (when the patient started having symptoms) and based on date of deaths to provide a more accurate picture of our progress in battling COVID-19.

The government remains committed to full transparency. We know we are asking a lot from the public but please be assured that we will strive tirelessly through continuous education and engagement of citizens.