Tricky statistical numbers, if you ask me. It paints an illusionary picture of decrease in the number of dengue cases and deaths. If you compare the 2006 column with the figures from my dengue post last year, you will note a very slight difference in the number of cases.
As of September 9 this year, and based on their advert above, the DoH says the Philippines has a total of 14,915 dengue cases. As of August 11 last year, however, we had a total of 14,142 dengue cases.
The DoH wants the impulsive observer to conclude that the overall dengue picture is actually good --- believe it or not --- as there are only 3 regions showing an increase in the number of cases over the same period last year.
But the comparison is erroneous. The 2005 figures above are the total number of dengue cases for that year.
Referring to the DoH table above, these 3 regions are the National Capital Region (where Metro Manila is) at 43.8 percent, Region IV-A (Calabarzon area) at 45.7 percent, and the biggest increase in the CAR area at 58.2 percent. Baguio City alone in CAR, accounts for more than 600 dengue cases. The rest of the regions show a decrease in the number of cases.
Mortality-wise, the DoH would like the careless observer to believe that there is really a more than 45 percent decrease in the number of deaths due to dengue.
Do not put your faith in what statistics say until you have carefully considered what they do not say. ~ William W. WattWhat the DoH advert forgets to mention is that the 2005 figures are the total number of dengue cases and deaths for that year, while the 2006 column only supplies figures up to September 9, 2006. These two are not comparable. It's amazing why they should even be compared. Partial figures and total figures are so different from each other. Any seasoned biostatistician will tell you that in this case, it's a mortal sin to compare partial figures with total figures. Unless, of course, you want to arrive at a wrong conclusion. Now, why would anyone want that?
The REAL dengue picture in the Philippines? By the looks of it, we are having the same trend as last year. Looking at the trend of dengue cases, we might end 2006 with more than 20,000 dengue cases again. A news report based on the DoH advert above has also drawn the wrong conclusions about the current dengue picture in the country.
What also alarmed me is this part of that news report:
At a Malacañang briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said there was a 42 percent decrease in dengue cases and an 84 percent decrease in meningococcemia cases, compared to the same period last year.
[SOURCE: INQ7.net, 18 Sept 2006 ]
Oh, no! Even the DOH Secretary is feeding the wrong statistics and conclusions to the head of government. What will happen now?
Complacency or making people believe the wrong data will not kill the dengue virus. On the other hand, killing mosquitoes will. The least the DOH can do to help alleviate a cyclical arthropod-borne disease is be honest with its figures. If we do not know the extent of the problem, we may never be able to solve it.
I pray this is merely an honest mistake on their part, and nothing intentional.