By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House committee on health has passed a bill mandating evidence-based data or research in making reports in the formulation of health policies and health advocacies on notifiable diseases.
The panel, chaired by Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan approved House Bill 3163, which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 3573 or “An Act Which Provides for the Prevention and Suppression of Dangerous Communicable Diseases”.
“We are now living in a rapidly changing world of information and technology where notification, by the fastest means possible, is required for the epidemic-prone diseases that newly appear in the population or have existed but are rapidly increasing in incidence,” Tan said.
Enacted in 1929, RA 3573 requires all individuals and health facilities to report notifiable diseases to national and local health authorities.
The bill allows for the collection of information that shows how often the disease occurs, which significantly aid public health authorities identify disease trends and track disease outbreaks and protect public health.
“Particularly, it mandates every physician, director, superintendent or persons in charge of hospitals, institutions, among others, upon which occur any case of reportable or communicable disease to immediately notify the nearest health station either by telephone, by messenger, or by written notice specifying the disease and the name of the person afflicted,” Tan said.
Under the bill, “notifiable disease” is referred to a disease that, by legal requirements, must be reported to the public health authority when the diagnosis is made.
Tan said her bill seeks to continuously develop and upgrade the list of nationally notifiable diseases, health-related events and conditions with their corresponding case definitions; and enforce mandatory reporting to public health authorities on diseases, bio-terrorism, other health-related events and conditions designated by the State as reportable.
The bill requires public and private laboratories to actively participate in disease surveillance through the following: assurance of the availability of appropriate laboratory tests and reagents and ongoing technological and training support for new and classic methods of notifiable disease detection and identification of other health-related events and conditions; and the establishment of linkages with clinical, veterinary, agricultural, and academic laboratories to share expertise, services and identify laboratory surge capacity for any public health emergency.
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