The Department of Health confirmed on Wednesday, May 13, 2020, the errors on its data on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, it says the errors spotted in April were only one percent of its data, and that they've been corrected.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the issues raised by the University of the Philippines (UP) Resilience Institute are “a nominal percentage” of the whole data. The errors in the data logged on Apil 24 and 25 have also been corrected as soon as possible.
“As early as April 26, we have seen, caught, and corrected the issue, and we very much appreciate the UP Resilience for raising their concerns,” Duque said at a press briefing. “We assure the public that the issues raised are less than one percent – smaller than one percent – of the whole data set,” he stressed.
The UP Resilience Institute earlier reported several “alarming” inconsistencies or errors in the DOH data. Some patients changed genders, their ages or place of residence were modified in a matter of days. Some patients who were earlier reported to be dead turned out to be alive.
Stephanie Sy, Founder & CEO of Thinking Machines Data Science, a company that works with the DOH during this pandemic, says there is no such thing as a 100% correct data set. "A 99% reliable and consistent data set is a useful data set for the use of policies and decisions that we have been making," she said.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire maintained that data is critical to interpret and draw conclusions. She also explained that the DOH manually gathers COVID-19 data from the barangay level, and they sometimes had to deal with incomplete information in our datasheet.
“Most of the time, we get data manually. Sometimes, there is automation but still, the data are passed through several levels and somewhere along the way, there will be some errors and we are not denying that… We won’t say we have a perfect system,” Vergeire said in an interview with The Chiefs on OneNews.
Duque stressed, however, the DOH COVID-19 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.”
The Health Department will be rolling out a new digital epidemiological surveillance information system developed in coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO) Philippine Office. The COVIDKAYA will automate several data collection processes that are expected to minimize encoding errors.