By Vanne Terrazola
Senator Joel Villanueva on April 16, Thursday, asked the Department of Health (DOH) to issue more details in its COVID-19 monitoring platforms to aid researchers and policymakers in studying the pandemic.
Villanueva underscored the importance of quality and accurate information from the DOH as the country continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“The success of the government’s drive to manage the impact of COVID-19 to the country is largely hinged on publicly-available data. The accuracy and veracity of information could be used by volunteer research teams to analyze and process […] for government to use in assessing the progress of its response efforts,” Villanueva said in a statement.
“Keeping accurate information helps our government make the best decision possible, that is why we are suggesting ways to improve data keeping. Sharing the information to the public is a step in the right direction,” he added.
He said the health department should release case-level data on mass testing, which would help establish trends and insights for policymakers to adjust existing strategies into the government’s response against COVID-19.
He also proposed to include details, such as pre-existing conditions of patients prior to their admission and the barangays where they live. This could also contribute in the government’s targeted mass testing, he said.
Villanueva likewise pitched for the inclusion of death reports from funeral parlors into the DOH COVID-19 monitoring report.
“By requiring funeral parlors to report and publicly disclose data on deaths, it will help account for the deaths outside hospitals and improve the quality of analysis that volunteer research teams are doing. We can look at death patterns and see if there’s a surge in certain areas. This will complement our COVID-19 tracking system,” he explained.
“A surge in number of deaths in one area may tell us something about the spread of COVID. There are reports that some individuals were not accommodated in hospitals so they just die at home,” he added.
These information, Villanueva said, will help the national government “arrive at better decisions such as to whether there is a need to extend the quarantine beyond April 30.”
Amid the shortage in health workers, Villanueva told the DOH to seek the help of the Department of Science and Technology and other volunteer scientists in analyzing COVID-19 data.
“We have to take advantage of the resources we have, such as volunteer scientists in the academe who need information to make accurate simulations, and help government craft appropriate policies as part of its COVID-19 response,” he said.
“If data isn’t shared with the public, our volunteer research teams will not be able to lend us a hand. They are willing to help. No need to pay for expensive consultants. There are volunteers,” he pointed out.