Concern over Covid-19 stats

Source: Concern over Covid-19 stats | Sunday Mail (Top Stories)

Bulawayo Bureau

SOME private and public hospitals are being accused of not providing Government with Covid-19 statistics, a move that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health described as scandalous and unacceptable.

It is believed that failure to provide statistics affects Government’s ability to plan.

Giving oral evidence on Covid-19 last week before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health, head of monitoring and evaluation in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Robert Mudyiradima and the director of epidemiology and disease control, Dr Portia Manangazira, said private hospitals such as Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo and others in Harare have not been providing the relevant data.

Chairperson of the committee Dr Ruth Labode said it was unacceptable for private hospitals to “play such games and try to be a law unto themselves”.

Government, she said, has to whip them into line.

Efforts to get a comment form Mater Dei Hospital administrator Sister Maureen Jamieson were fruitless as she was said to be off duty.

Messages sent to her number were not responded to by the time of going to print.

In an interview yesterday, Dr Manangazira said private and public institutions were both culpable.

“There is underreporting in general across board even in our own institutions and yet we would want our reporting to reflect the national picture of Covid-19. At times there are delays, maybe the five cases that will have been taken today are reported late. Sometimes it is a question of the arrangement around compilation of statistics at the institution,” she said.

Dr Manangazira said under the Public Health Act (PHA), private institutions do not manage infectious and formidable diseases.

“We then expect that when a public health crisis is an emergency of international and national concern, it is managed in those institutions plus the public health sector. What happened with Covid-19 is that it really became an enormous crisis and the private sector came forward to say we want to assist, so for the first time they started managing a public health emergency. It would naturally take them time to develop up-to-date reporting into the national reporting system,” she said.

“This might account for the challenges that we have been facing in terms of getting reports from the private institutions. Traditionally, the private sector does not report to the Government and it is something that we are looking at now that there are Information Communication Technologies to have reporting that is easy rather than having to fill in a form.”