The Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act

The Purpose of the Act

It is the State’s policy to protect and promote the right of health of the people and instill health consciousness among them. Hence the State must endeavor to protect the people from public health threats through efficient and effective disease surveillance. This includes infectious diseases that are emerging or re-emerging, diseases for elimination and eradication, epidemics and other health events involving chemical, radio-nuclear and environmental agents of public health concern. The State’s response must be consistent with the system given by the 2005 International Health Regulations of the World Health Organization. Pursuant to this policy, the Department of Health (DOH) and its local counterparts are recognized as the first line of defense to epidemics and health events which pose a risk to public health and security.

Accordingly, the Act shall have the following objectives: to continuously develop the list of nationally notifiable diseases and health events of public concern; to ensure the establishment od a disease surveillance and response system; to expand collaborations with different agencies involved in disease surveillance; to provide accurate and timely health information about notifiable diseases; to establish mechanisms for strong collaboration with national and local government health agencies to ensure prompt response to reports of diseases; to ensure that public health authorities have the authority to ensure mandatory reporting of diseases, epidemiologic investigation, quarantine and isolation, and rapid containment measures; to provide sufficient funding to support operations for these objectives; to require health professionals to actively participate in disease surveillance; and to respect to the fullest extent the rights of the people to liberty, bodily integrity and privacy while preserving public health.


Duties in Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases

The Epidemiology Board of the DOH is tasked to issue the official list of institutionalized public health information system, disease surveillance and response systems for mandatory reporting of notifiable diseases and health events of public concern. The DOH is given the authority to establish the criteria on which diseases and health events of public concern shall be included in this list.

Under the Act the DOH and its local counterparts are mandated to implement mandatory reporting of notifiable diseases and health events of public health concern. They are the entities which have the duty to implement the objectives of the Act. They have the duty to create and maintain a functional disease surveillance and response system. They are also tasked with data collection, analysis and dissemination, due to this they are exempt from the provisions of the Data Privacy Act on accessibility of data. They must also ensure the protection od all personnel directly involved in surveillance and response activities. They must also respect the rights of people to liberty, bodily integrity and privacy to the fullest extent while maintaining their duty in preserving public health and security.

The DOH in collaboration with Local Government Units shall ensure that the Epidemiology and Surveillance Units (ESUs) are established and functional in all levels of the DOH and its local counterparts, and in public and private health facilities and laboratories, as well as ports and airports in ah provinces, cities and municipalities throughout the country. The ESU shall capture and verify all reported notifiable diseases and health events of public health concern; provide timely, accurate, and reliable epidemiologic information to appropriate agencies; conduct disease surveillance and response activities; coordinate needed response; and facilitate capacity building in the field of epidemiology, disease surveillance and response at the Epidemiology Bureau.

Powers Provided by the Act

The Secretary of Health is given the authority to declare epidemics of national and/or international concern, except when the same threatens national security. In such a case, the President shall declare a State of Public Health Emergency. Provincial and municipal health officers may only declare a disease outbreak within their local jurisdiction, provided there is enough scientific evidence to support the declaration.

Prohibited Acts and Penalties

Under the Act the following shall be prohibited: unauthorized disclosure of private and confidential information pertaining to a patient’s medical condition or treatment; tampering of records or intentionally providing misinformation; non-operation of the disease surveillance and response systems; non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern; and non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern.

These acts are penalized with a fine ranging from P20,000.00 to P 50,000.00 or imprisonment ranging from 1 month to 6 months. In case the violator is a medical professional, the Professional Regulation Commission has the authority to suspend or revoke his or her license. In cases of public servants, their civil service eligibility may be suspended or revoked by the Civil Service Commission. While in case of a violation by a juridical entity, such as corporations, its chief executive officer, president, general manager, or such other officer in charge shall be held liable.



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