Oxygen deserts: the lack of information and structure in the Ceará countryside

Country/area: Brazil

Organisation: O POVO

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 31/03/2021

Credit: Gabriela Custódio, Thays Lavor


Thays Lavor: Journalist, Master in Communication and Post-Graduate in Data Science. She works with investigative and data journalism, teaches courses and workshops aimed at investigating disinformation and data journalism. She is currently editor-in-chief of the data journalism center of the newspaper O POVO, located in the State of Ceará. She is a member of the board of the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) and the network of ambassadors for Civic Innovation at Open Knowledge Brasil (OKBR).

Gabriela Custódio: Journalist and MBA student in Data Journalism. Reporter for the daily editorial of Jornal O POVO.

Project description:

Roughly 3,4 million people in Ceará are at high or very high risk of coronavirus in regions without official information about oxygen availability in hospitals. Towns were warned about the possibility of shortages, and the lack of transparency impedes the understanding of the State’s real input infrastructure.

Impact reached:

The impact of the project was to expose the lack of transparency of public data from the state of Ceará to the population and reveal that a large portion of the population of the poorest cities in the state have the hospital network without oxygen.

Techniques/technologies used:

We explored the National Registry of Health Establishments (CNES) and searched for data on oxygen plants in the hospital network in the state of Ceará. Then we cross these data with the reality of each health unit and we realize that the inconsistency of the information and the vulnerability of the population.

What was the hardest part of this project?

Brazil suffers from a data blackout. So getting the information was the hardest part of the job. In addition to information being scarce, she was also inconsistent. So the team had to carry out a check on over 3,000 healthcare facilities, making calls to healthcare facilities and checking google earth images to verify whether or not the facility had an oxygen plant.

What can others learn from this project?

Journalists can be inspired and learn to do data-driven investigations, and with open tools, analyze data and reveal stories that the powerful would not want to be told. And thus strengthen democracy in your region.

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