DOH says error seen in UP study only of nominal percentage, does not prejudice overall interpretation

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The  Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday denied that the University of the Philippines (UP) study cited “alarming errors”, but is actually  just “nominal and does not affect the overall interpretation and decision making.”

The U.P.  Resilience Institute earlier said there were alarming errors on the agency’s data on patients with COVID-19, which also mismatched the tally of local governments.

“The Department of Health (DOH) appreciates the concerns raised by the UP COVID-19 Pandemic  Response Team in its Policy Note No. 6, dated May 8, 2020,” said the DOH Office of the Secretary in its comment to the UP study.

“We assure the public that the issues raised are a nominal percentage of the whole data set, and does  not prejudice the overall interpretation of data and decision making,” the DOH said.

“The DOH has already taken note of the data errors found in the April 24 and 25 data drops,” the DOH said.

The DOH said these issues have been resolved as early as April 26, as well as other inconsistencies communicated by private citizens through   covidtracker@doh.gov.ph​.

“We very much appreciate the UP Resilience Institute for raising their  concerns,” the DOH said.

The DOH said data is continuously rectified “the moment we identify any issue, including but not limited to date formatting inconsistencies, case  classification, and proper identification of residence.”

Nevertheless, they said,  the  DOH remains committed to transparency, and “we welcome feedback from the expert community.”

“Moving forward, we will include more details on the specific rows that have changed from the previous day due to corrections,” the statement said.

Building and using high-quality data systems normally takes months of effort, while the crisis has demanded that the existing systems be improved and scaled out in real-time, the DOH said.

“We are collaborating with a wide range of institutions, and we welcome other data engineers, data scientists, and specialists willing to contribute to this effort, as this is a matter of national importance,” it said.

The DOH, on the other hand, thanked and expressed gratefulness  to the WHO, epidemiologists of the University of the Philippines  Manila College of Public Health, and Thinking Machines Data Science for their immense support in data validation and analysis.

The daily data drops would not be possible without their guidance and   expertise, they said.

“We acknowledge that the system is not perfect but we continue to improve our data collection and  reporting systems. DOH welcomes feedback as we respond to the information needs and the call for transparency from our fellow Filipinos in this national response against the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said.

“The Health Department is currently rolling out a new digital epidemiological surveillance information system ‘COVIDKAYA’ developed with the World Health Organization Country Office. This new system automates several data collection processes which is expected to minimize  encoding errors,” the DOH also said./Stacy Ang

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