Dengue deaths: Discrepancies in data

A child admitted to Shishu Hospital with dengue in the capital cityFile photo

Discrepancies have been found in the data provided by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) regarding dengue-related deaths. Official records indicate a low number of deaths attributed to dengue, while certain locations report higher fatalities.

Additionally, the reported number of dengue cases appears to be lower. This report was based on data from four major government hospitals in the capital city and Chattagram. This year, there has been a worrying surge in both dengue patients and deaths.

The health directorate’s control room reported eight additional deaths in a single day on Monday, bringing the total number of dengue-related fatalities this year to 114, with 66 women and 48 men among the victims.

Public health experts emphasise the importance of accurate data to effectively combat the spread of dengue in this critical situation. However, inconsistencies have been observed in the information provided by the health directorate.

The Health Emergency Operation Centre and Control Room, which operates under the DGHS, regularly publishes data on dengue patients from 20 government hospitals in the capital, 42 private hospitals, and 71 hospitals outside Dhaka city. However, there is a disparity between the information collected by Prothom Alo from Mugda Medical College Hospital, Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Mitford Hospital, and Chittagong Medical College Hospital, and the data released by the control room of the health directorate. The information provided by these hospital authorities does not tally with the figures reported by the health directorate's control room.

On a regular schedule, the hospitals mentioned send their daily dengue-related data to the control room. This information encompasses the number of new admissions within a 24-hour period, the reported deaths, the patients discharged after recovery, and the total number of patients currently hospitalised. The control room serves as the central hub for collecting data from all hospitals and subsequently disseminates it to various government departments and media outlets.

In response to inquiries about the disparity between the hospital-provided information and the control room's data, Professor Abul Basar Mohammed Khurshid Alam, the Director General of the Directorate of Health, told Prothom Alo last night, "There is no inconsistency in the information. If any such discrepancies exist, they will be rectified. I will address this matter with the relevant officials tomorrow (Tuesday)."

Discrepancy in death records

Based on information provided by Niyatuzzaman, the director of Mugda Medical College Hospital, to Prothom Alo, it is evident that the hospital recorded 15 dengue-related deaths in June and 14 deaths in July until Monday.

The list specifies the dates on which these fatalities occurred. Earlier, a single death was reported at the hospital in January. Consequently, the total number of dengue-related deaths at Mugda Hospital thus far amounts to 30.

However, according to the record received from the DGHS control room yesterday, 25 deaths were reported for Mugda Hospital. This indicates discrepancy regarding five unaccounted deaths in the control room's list.

A similar situation was observed in the record sent by the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH). According to the data provided by the director's office of DMCH to Prothom Alo, 23 individuals have succumbed to dengue at the hospital this year.

However, according to the information received from the DGHS control room yesterday, the reported number of dengue-related deaths at DMCH stands at 20.

Chittagong Medical College Hospital authorities said that 10 people have died in that hospital so far. The control room has been saying for several days that 11 people have died in the hospital.

The Civil Surgeon office of Cox's Bazar district told Prothom Alo that four Rohingyas have died of dengue in that district so far. The control room does not release data on Rohingya casualties and deaths.

Discrepancies in hospital admission data

The control room of the DGHS reported that a total of 22,467 patients were admitted to hospitals nationwide from January 1 until yesterday. The number of patients admitted to each hospital is provided separately.

According to the control room's data, 1,492 patients were admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. On the other hand, the director's office of the hospital stated that 1,517 patients were admitted. This indicates that the number of patients reported by the hospital is slightly higher than the figure provided by the control room.

According to the control room, 1357 patients have been admitted to Mitford Hospital due to dengue. The information given by the director of that hospital to Prothom Alo the number of patient was 1445.

Mugda Medical College Hospital has witnessed the highest number of dengue patient admissions this year. According to the hospital's provided information, a total of 4,035 patients were admitted in the combined period of June and the current month until yesterday. However, the control room data states that from 1 January to 17 July, a total of 3,964 patients were admitted to the hospital. This significant difference suggests that the total number of hospitalised dengue patients indicated in the DGHS data is considerably lower than the actual figures.

Ihteshamul Haque Chowdhury, the Secretary General of the Bangladesh Medical Association, expressed his disapproval of any discrepancies between the reported number of deaths and admitted patients. He told Prothom Alo, "Information should be freely available to all individuals, providing them with complete data. Without comprehensive information, it will be challenging to effectively address the dengue situation."