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New law now requires mandatory reporting of 'notifiable' diseases.

By Genalyn Kabiling

The government will enforce the mandatory reporting of notifiable diseases and public health emergencies and threats in the country based on a new law.

President Duterte has signed Republic Act No. 11332 that provides policies and procedures on surveillance and response to notifiable diseases, epidemics and health events that pose risk to public health and security.

The law, also known as "Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Concern Act, was signed last April 26. A copy of the law was only released to the public Tuesday.

According to Wikipedia, a notifiable disease is any disease that is required by law to be reported to government authorities. The collation of information allows the authorities to monitor the disease and provides early warning of possible outbreaks.

"It is hereby declared the policy of the State to protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them," the law read.

"It shall endeavor to protect the people from public health threats through the efficient and effective disease surveillance of notifiable diseases including emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, diseases for elimination and eradication, epidemics and health events including chemical, radio-nuclear and environmental agents of public health concern and provide an effective response system," it added.

Under the law, the Epidemiology Bureau under the Department of Health shall regularly update and issue a list of nationally notifiable diseases and health events of public health concern with their corresponding case definitions.

The bureau must issue the official list of an institutionalized public health information system, disease surveillance, and response systems for mandatory reporting of the diseases and public health events.

The health department and its local counterparts are mandated to implement the mandatory reporting of notifiable diseases and health events of public health concern.

All public and private physicians, allied medical personnel, hospitals, health facilities, workplaces, schools, prisons, ports, airports, establishments, communities, other government agencies, and non-government organizations are required to accurately and immediately report notifiable diseases and health events.

The law states that the Secretary of Health will have the authority to declare epidemics of national and international concerns except when it threatens national security. "In which case, the President of the Republic of the Philippines shall declare a State of Public Health Emergency and mobilize governmental and non-governmental agencies to respond to the threat," the law read.

Provincial, city or municipal health offices may only declare a disease outbreak within their respective areas.

The health department will also be required to establish Epidemiology and Surveillance Units to verify all reported diseases and health events, provide timely and accurate information to agencies, conduct disease surveillance and response, coordinate the needed response, and facilitate capacity building.

The new law also prohibits unauthorized disclosure of private and confidential information about a patient's medical condition or treatment; tampering of records; non-operation of disease surveillance and response systems; and non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report or respond to health alerts.

Any person or entity that violates the law will be slapped with a fine ranging between P20,000 to P50,000, imprisonment between one month to six months, or both at the discretion of the court.

A notifiable disease is any disease that is required by law to be reported to government authorities. The collation of information allows the authorities to monitor the disease and provides early warning of possible outbreaks.

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President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (JOEY DALUMPINES / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Jul 16, 2019
Words:579
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