Today, October 20th, marks World Statistics Day, celebrated once every five years. This year we celebrate it under the theme of ‘connecting the world with data we can trust’. It is meant to underscore the importance of comprehensive and reliable statistics for formulating public policies and communicating relevant and truthful information to the public.
Statistics is at the heart of public policy. It is crucial to measuring our economic productivity, the success of our major industries, including tourism and fisheries, and informing our citizens regarding virtually every sphere of public interest, from our healthcare capacity to the progress of women’s rights, to our ability to stop crime. In light of this, I thank the dedicated staff at the National Bureau of Statistics for the invaluable work they do to update the public regarding important national trends.
At its core, statistics is data in its purest form. It is quantifiable and impartial and therefore of immense use to my Administration, which places a high priority on data driven policies. Every single one of the themes listed in this Government’s Strategic Action Plan, encompassing the areas of Blue Economy, Caring State, Dignified Families, Jazeera Dhiriulhunn, and Good Governance, comes with specific and measureable goals, the success of which must be measured by hard numbers. For instance, we have committed to ensuring that at least 1/3rd or 33.3 percent, of our city, atoll, and island councils are women. In the health sector, an increase in the number of patients accessing services in medical facilities outside the greater Male’ area is an encouraging sign of our policy towards developing regional healthcare.
This ongoing pandemic of Covid-19 has made especially clear the importance of statistics. At the beginning of the health crisis we had to take account of several quantifiable factors to formulate our response, including the number of hospitals and critical care facilities we had available; the damage that would be wrought on the country’s economy by closing our borders, as reflected in our estimated GDP growth; our dollar reserves; and the monetary assistance we would need from our international partners.
Most critically, we had to stay constantly updated on statistics regarding infection rates, contact clusters and the number of persons in need of critical care. The trends we extrapolated from these numbers drove our health response and prompted the Government to take several of the measures that it did – from locking down the Greater Male’ Region to slow new infections while we built up our care capacity, to our decision to ease restrictions and open borders proportionate to declining case numbers and infection rates. Throughout this process we have also been highly forthcoming to our public regarding the country’s Covid-19 situation, by presenting them with comprehensive and regular numbers on our health context. For instance, we were one of the few countries that provided sex disaggregated data on new and ongoing cases.
The importance of statistics is also why I have accepted my cabinet’s recommendation to designate a National Statistics Day. From henceforward every October 20th will be celebrated as National Statistics Day in the Maldives. Its purpose is to emphasize the significance of statistics to public policy, and to explain why it is vital that statistics be given more prominence in our education system. It is our intention that future generations of Maldivian students be increasingly familiar with statistics. Further we believe it is vital that there is a broad national appreciation for the importance of statistics. They are the best indicators we have to measure the success of our Jazeera Raajje and the pace at which we aretravelling to this destination.