Friday, 3 December, 2021

Corona calls for real time, credible data: CPD

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 26 November, 2021 12:00 AM
  • Print news
Corona calls for real time, credible data: CPD

The Covid-19 pandemic has called for credible and real time data and translating them into policy responses by the government as data gaps have posed challenges during the pandemic, according to professionals and policymakers.

These observations was made at the virtual dialogue titled ‘Data-driven Policy Making During the Pandemic: Taking the Experience Forward,’ organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in partnership with the Embassy of Switzerland in Bangladesh on Thursday.

“Demand for credible real-time data has increased manifold during the COVID-19 pandemic era. Indeed, the pandemic has improved awareness regarding the need for data and its use for decision making,” Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, Distinguished Fellow of CPD remarked.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a range of adverse socio-economic and health impacts. But the data deficits are inhibiting the government from pursuing necessary and effective public policy actions, including vaccination drive, to combat the scourge, noted speakers.

In his keynote paper, Muntaseer Kamal, senior research associate of CPD, highlighted that the future course of actions would critically hinge on three issues: the system-wide adaptation of the successful initiatives, enhanced scalability and ensuring human-resource-related financial or organisational sustainability.

It was mentioned that the creation of a ‘knowledge hub’ containing all relevant data, statistics, research and analysis contributed by both government and non-government entities might be beneficial to ensure system-wide adaptation.

The sustainability of the data-related initiatives will require mobilisation of additional resources – financial, human resources and technical – from both domestic and foreign sources, the researcher insisted.

Dr Shahnaz Arefin, secretary of Statistics and Informatics Division (SID), said, “Data interoperability is important and data should be accessible to all relevant stakeholders to avoid duplication. To this end, a multi-stakeholder approach is required in the areas of data collection and coordination.”

Nathalie Chuard, Swiss Ambassador in Dhaka, stated that the embassy is supporting evidence-based research in order to complement the SDG attainment process of Bangladesh.

Global partnership initiatives are also emphasising data issues at the national level. In this spirit, Switzerland will also continue to support the data ecosystem in Bangladesh as part of their country strategy, the envoy added.

Mohammad Tajul Islam, Director General of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, focused on the demand for quarterly data from various domestic and international agencies and the users of macroeconomic aggregates.

Given the cyclic nature of the economy, quarterly updates are required to monitor the volatility and inform the policies accordingly, he stressed.

Prof Mustafizur Rahman, Distinguished Fellow of CPD, felt the necessity of cross-border information sharing which is also relevant in the context of pandemic response as monitoring mobility of travelers has also become critical. Anir Chowdhury, Programme Advisor, Data Innovation Cluster, Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Programme stated: “NID is the single thread that binds many data platforms together, but it is not enough.”

 We are missing people who are aged under 18 and also the Rohingya community. In this connection, a unique ID combining NID, birth certificate, and other relevant information sources under the guidance of the CRVS (Civil Registration and Vital Statistic) system will help mitigate the issue.

Dr Rumana Huque, Professor at Department of Economics, University of Dhaka, suggested having a steering committee to coordinate data initiatives at the national level. Real-time data, regular data and reliable data have become a necessity now. IBAS code is required for some health expenses so that money can be properly used.