The Politics of Reporting Reportable Diseases: A Methodological Review of the State-Researcher Clash

Colman T. Msoka


In December 2016, the media in Tanzania was preoccupied with questions on the
presence of the Zika virus in Tanzania. The debate was sparked by a report of the
National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), which pointed out that traces of the
Zika virus had been identified in Tanzania. Within a short time, the government
refuted the report and asked NIMR to retract the findings, arguing that the reporting
process did not follow established procedures. Two central questions demand a close
review: first, why did the government demand that the report be retracted? Second,
what are the procedures that should have been followed? In this methodological
review of the reporting of reportable diseases, this paper attempts to examine the
raison d’être for the tag of war between the two sides, and highlights the right
procedures that should have been followed in the announcement of such findings. The
review concludes with a methodological note to researchers and the reporting of
findings in health-related studies.

Key words: reportable disease, reporting politics, Tanzania, Zika, methods.


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