National and Regional statistics on malaria cases and deaths and related issues such as distribution of treated nets does not reflect the actual situation on the ground. For example, with improvement in surveillance systems following institutional strengthening, some countries recently reported a significant "increase" in Malaria cases and deaths after years of reporting decrease.We are talking about the quality of data collection, analysis, synthesis and dissemination.
Data discrepancies (missing, omitted or incomplete data) are frequently observed at all levels- health facilities and systems, national malaria control programs, multinationals, etc. This makes malaria situation and trends analysis challenging and somewhat questionnable. Consequently policies, strategies and plans of action might not adequately target the problem. Now we are talking about waste of scarce resources... its like a peace treaty is being signed but with fighting still on like there was no treaty.
Points to Ponder
- The quality and reliability of clinical data: can we actually depend solely on clinical data for trends and situation analysis? are such data accurate and consistent?
- The collection, recording and reporting of malaria cases: is this practically standardized and consistent? what about feedback and follow-up of discrepancies and other concerns?
- The strength of malaria surveillance and (health) information systems
These are some basic issues that need to be addressed in order to maximize scarce resources and quickly reduce malaria to an acceptable level where elimination can practically follow.