CHR wants clarification on health workers’ deployment ban, disclosing COVID-19 patients’ info
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has asked the government to clarify two of its recent pronouncements on the fight against COVID-19 — the deployment ban on health care workers and the disclosure of patients’ personal information.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said on Monday that parameters should be set for these regulations, as it may have a drastic effect on the lives of the people concerned. Previously, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) issued a directive banning the deployment of health workers, for them to help the Philippine government first.
On the other hand, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases said that COVID-19 patients are now required to disclose their personal information.
“On the disclosure of personal information, while the government clarified that this shall be done in accordance with the Data Privacy Act, clear parameters must be outlined to ensure that it will not overstep the right to privacy. We recognize the importance of contract tracing to contain the virus, but it must be done with utmost care for privacy and confidentiality,” De Guia said.
“On the banning of deployment of workers, there is no question on the need for more healthcare workers here in our country. However, the commensurate salary must be considered given that this is the primary reason they choose overseas opportunities,” she added.
De Guia said that the human rights of people involved should be considered first and foremost — in the case of COVID-19 patients, CHR asks that the government handle the personal information properly, and ensure confidentiality to prevent discrimination and harassment.
On the side of the health workers, CHR said that the government should realize the ill effects of the deployment ban, especially for those who are working under a contract overseas.
“Given the reports on stigmatization and attacks directed towards COVID-19 suspects and cases, as well as frontliners, it is the obligation of all personnel involved to respect and handle with the utmost respect and confidentiality the data gathered,” De Guia said.
Previously, the IATF said that they would discuss the issues during a meeting on Monday, especially after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin slammed POEA’s deployment ban.
Locsin said that he objects the POEA decision, which came to light after nurses working for the United Kingdom’s National Health Service were stopped from leaving the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
IATF Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles meanwhile clarified that the information divulged by COVID-19 patients would not be made public.
As the dire effects of the COVID-19 pandemic grip the country, it was observed that health workers make up 7 percent of the cases in the Philippines. Several nurses and doctors, like Manila Doctors Hospital’s Dr. Greg Macasaet, Philippine Heart Center’s Dr. Israel Bactol have succumbed to the disease.
Department of Health officials said that as of Monday, there are 4,932 infected patients — 315 of which have already died while at least 242 have recovered.
Worldwide, over 1.8 million individuals have been infected, while 114,063 have died from the disease and 421,500 have recovered from it.
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