DOH, NPC assure COVID-19 patients of utmost data secrecy
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health (DOH) and the National Privacy Commission (NPC) are calling for “mutual trust” between the government and COVID-19 patients by assuring the latter the protection of their privacy while urging them to disclose their personal data to authorities honestly.
“As we call on all patients to all COVID-19 patents to truthfully and accurately disclose their personal data to proper health authorities to help fight this pandemic, the DOH guarantees that the privacy rights of these patients are protected,” the two government agencies said in a joint statement released on Thursday.
“The DOH and NPC stand firm against any form of unbridled disclosure of patients’ personal data to the public that has been proven to cause a real risk of severe harm to patients,” they added.
The statement was issued in response to privacy concerns of stakeholders on the processing and disclosure of suspect, probable, and confirmed COVID-19 patient data.
“We uphold the Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act and the Data Privacy Act of 2012 in processing COVID-19 patient data in pursuit of surveillance and response,” the statement read.
The DOH only discloses data to public health authorities and concerned public healthcare providers for contact tracing and management of the disease, according to the two government agencies. These data may also be disclosed to other authorized government entities as allowed by the DOH.
“In these instances, public health authorities, concerned healthcare providers, and other government agencies who are custodians of patients’ personal data have the legal obligation to protect the data privacy rights of these patients and ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their personal data,” the statement read.
The DOH and NPC said they are reminding these institutions of their duties to “help allay the fears of patients on COVID-related physical assaults, harassments, and discrimination, and encourage them to report their symptoms, take confirmatory tests, and submit themselves to treatments by proper authorities.”
The government is also calling for the patients’ honesty and cooperation to allow frontliners to adopt appropriate measures to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus.
Last March, DOH urged patients to be honest to avoid placing the lives of health workers at risk following the report of one doctor who allegedly died after a patient lied about her travel history. The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) earlier this month likewise required COVID-19 patients to disclose personal information to enhance contact-tracing efforts.
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