Duterte signs law requiring reporting of public health concerns

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 16 2019 12:43 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a new law requiring the reporting of public health concerns and events such as infectious diseases and epidemics.

Republic Act No. 11332 or the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act” aims to protect the population from public health threats through mandatory reporting, disease surveillance, and an effective response system.

It tasks the Department of Health, specifically its Epidemiology Bureau, to regularly update and issue a list of nationally notifiable diseases or ailments that must be reported to the public.

“The DOH and its local counterparts shall establish and maintain functional disease surveillance and response systems,” the new law states.

Response systems include protocols for reporting of diseases, measures for data security and confidentiality, and procedures and provisions to ensure the safety of personnel conducting disease surveillance and response activities.

Signed on April 26, the new measure requires the DOH and its local counterparts to provide accurate and timely health information about notifiable diseases and health-related events and conditions to the public and health providers.

Under the new law, the health secretary is given the authority to declare epidemics except when it threatens national security. In such a case, the President shall be the one to declare a state of public health emergency and order certain government agencies to respond to such a threat.

The law also allows municipal, city, and provincial health offices to declare a disease outbreak within their respective areas as long as the declaration is backed by scientific evidence.

Violators of the new law may face fines of not less than P20,000 but not higher than P50,000 and/or imprisonment of not less than a month but not more than 6 months.

On Monday, the health department declared a national dengue alert amid rising cases of the mosquito-borne disease in several parts of the country.