Allegation of data massaging affront to our integrity–GHS
The Ghana Health Service has rejected claims that it manipulates data on deaths from its regional health directorates.
It insists that the reporting of data, including deaths and recoveries at the national level goes beyond just numbers and include epidemiological and clinical state of cases.
“It requires a bit more time to verify and validate. In that context, the Regional-level data will normally be higher than the National data at any given time. There are treatment centres across the regions supported by the National Case Management team,” a statement signed and issued by the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Patrick Aboagye, said.
It was in reaction to theghanareport.com and an Occupy Ghana statement that accused the government of under-reporting deaths.
Documents available to theghanareport.com revealed that the Ashanti regional reported cases should be 38 and not 14 as contained in the National Situation Report of the Ghana Health Service.
Ghana’s Covid-19 death figure of 54, which was announced by the President in his 11th Broadcast to the Nation last Sunday, June 14, was calculated using 14 deaths from Ashanti Region. This was despite the fact that the Ashanti Region sent a figure of 38 deaths on the 13th of June, a day before the president addressed the nation.
But the statement said all reported COVID-19 related data, including deaths, were reported through its reporting channels (facility- district- region- national).
“All deaths reported from treatment centres in the districts are thoroughly reviewed by the National Case Management Team with regions to validate cause of death, presentation of the case, care and treatment given and lessons learnt and also eliminate any possible double counting. It is after this certification that the numbers are added to the national data and published,” it said.
Going by this convention, it said the region would first report through their Situational Report to the Director-General and other partners.
“We must remember that the Regional Health Administration is part of the Ghana Health Service and as such if there is a grand scheme to massage the figures on deaths as is being alleged, the region will not report such figures through its situational report. This allegation of data massaging, in our opinion is very unfair and an affront to our professional integrity.
In a statement that also touched on topical issues on Ghana’s fight against covid-19, including case count, laboratory test, bed space, inadequate personal protective equipment and contact tracing, the statement said the GHS was equally concerned about the challenges with PPEs.
“We are equally concerned about the number of health workers being infected and the Service is doing everything possible to minimize the risk to all staff. The issue of the unavailability of PPEs has largely been resolved, nonetheless, occasional maldistribution in some regions and districts do occur leading to temporary shortages in some health facilities; and this occurrence is continuously monitored and addressed.
“We are using the Logistic Information Management System which gives us real time information to monitor remotely PPEs availability at least up to the level of the district and we use districts’ facility distribution reports to monitor PPEs availability at service delivery points and respond rapidly to shortages.
But the GHS said it had disengaged all its volunteers after the lockdown.
“During the lockdown period, the Service engaged volunteers in Greater Kumasi and Greater Accra to augment the existing staff strength in the conduct of enhanced contact tracing which included 34,000 travellers who entered the country three weeks before the lockdown.
“After the lockdown, when the numbers of contacts that needed to be traced went down, the Service resorted to the use of its own staff and disengaged all volunteers. The staff are the community health nurses and disease control officers whose duties normally involve community outreach,” the statement said.
While the Ashanti Regional Health Directorate warned that the region could not cope with a surge in cases because of a shortage of beds, the statement had a contrary position.
“In terms of attainment of full bed capacity for critical inpatient care for COVID 19, we can state that we have never exceeded our bed capacity as a country. We started this process with a 450 bed capacity which has increased to 700. At the moment, we have 71 treatment centres across the country and 21 of them are idle.
“We are still not resting on our oars, we will continue to expand. We are expanding the number of beds in Kumasi to take care of mild-to-moderate cases and positive cases with comorbidities.
“We are working with the regions to increase the bed capacity for moderate to severe/critical cases; an example is the 12- bed COVID-19 ICU wing coming up at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital. The largest isolation centre that is used for those who are largely asymptomatic is the Pentecost Convention Centre (PCC) located in Gomoa Feteh with a bed capacity of 600. As at June 16, 2020, we had 356 in-patients; and the Centre has never operated at maximum capacity,” it said.
Read the full statement below