GHS, government deny massaging Covid-19 death numbers

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has rejected claims by pressure group OccupyGhana that it is massaging the figures of Covid-19 casualties.

The Director-General of the Service, Dr Patrick Aboagye has explained that there are laid down procedures before such updates are made, hence the delays in the update.

“We have a national case management team that does an audit to see the cause of death, how was it managed, is it a Covid-19 death, and as soon as that is done, they are added,” he said a press conference in Accra, Tuesday.

He added, “So you may see a Region recording a certain number but we are not only interested in a number, we want to know whether the treatment was appropriate and where they are coming from and that is how it is being done,” he explained.

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The pressure group had alleged some anomalies it has detected in the data from GHS cannot be a true reflection of the situation on the ground.

The number of deaths as a result of the pandemic stood at 54 (as at midnight of June 15, 2020), per the GHS figures.

But the group claims this cannot be true, adding that “there is cause to suspect that the death numbers are being massaged.”

It explained, “the reported 54 deaths so far cannot be right because even though 38 deaths have been reported from the Ashanti Region alone, less than 20 of those deaths are included in the national count.”

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OccupyGhana further argues that “if the public suspects under-reporting etc, there will be a loss of trust in the reporting system and that will have consequences that will influence public behavioural responses.”

“The case count is growing steadily by the day – about 200 to 300 new cases per day. At the last count, we had 7652 confirmed active cases even though that number could be higher (the total number of confirmed cases was 11,964),” the June 15 statement read.

But the Director-General of GHS in response to the claims said, the Service is not only interested in reporting numbers.

Dr Patrick Aboagye said the situational reports are also made available after due process has been followed and will not be rushed.

“This is to say that nobody is deliberately holding numbers. The situational reports are there for every Ghanaian to see what is happening. But there is a process that is not just interested in the numbers but evaluating the process so we know what to do.

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“The case managers go out to see what is happening in the regions, whether we need additional help; can we manage those cases; these are the things that we do.

“And as and when the case management team has the figures, then it will be clear and the figures go up.”

Backing this stand by Dr Aboagye, the Presidential Advisor on Health said government has no reason to manipulate the figures.

Taking his turn at the press briefing, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare said “the presidential task force and for that matter, the Presidency doesn’t generate any figures.

“There is an implementation agency so this Covid-19 is led by the Ghana Health Service, the teaching hospitals, and the Ministry of Health.

“We see the figures as we are seeing here today and then we use the figures to plan and monitor whatever is going on.

“Then we target where we must share resources. We don’t generate any figures, we don’t manipulate any figures at the presidential taskforce level,” he concluded.

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