On April 26, 2019, last year, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law RA 11332, that provides policies and measures for surveillance and response to notifiable diseases and protect Filipinos from any public health threats.
Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and health Events of Public Health Concern Act
An Act providing policies and prescribing procedures on surveillance and response to notifiable diseases, epidemics, and health events of public health concern, and appropriating funds therefore, repealing for the purpose act no 3573. Otherwise known as the “Law on reporting of communicable diseases.
“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 states.
“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 RA 11332, the Epidemiology Bureau under the Department of Health is tasked to regularly update and issue a list of nationally notifiable diseases and health events of public health concern with their corresponding case definitions.
This law is mandated to protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them. Protect the people from public health threats through efficient and effective disease surveillance of notifiable diseases.
Furthermore, 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.
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.
Under Section 7, it states that the declaration of the epidemic of public health emergency shall be given authority to the Secretary of Health—unless otherwise when it is the same threat to the National Security, then the President of the Republic of the Philippines shall declare a State of Public health.
Click here to check out the RA 11332.
OPINION: While the process of creating the implementing rules and regulations of the law is currently underway, it could have been much better if it was processed earlier. By then, the country could have been more prepared, especially with the continuous rising cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease, in terms of policies and procedures, public information, quarantine process, and declaration of a health emergency, to name a few.
In the meantime, let us monitor the developments and follow advisories from the DOH, WHO on how to better protect our selves.