Sep 26, 2020

Professional associations call for transparency on handling COVID-19 cases

IBP, PMA, and PCS, in a statement made Sunday, said that public health and safety prevails over the right of an individual to confidentiality of medical data and other details pointing out that such right is not absolute and may be curtailed “in case of emergency, where time is of the essence, and disclosure may be made even without a court order”.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Philippine Medical Association (PMA), and Philippine College of Surgeons (PCS) called on patients to voluntarily waive their right to confidentiality of medical data in line with the public health and safety concern brought by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

IBP, PMA, and PCS, in a statement made Sunday, said that public health and safety prevails over the right of an individual to confidentiality of medical data and other details pointing out that such right is not absolute and may be curtailed “in case of emergency, where time is of the essence, and disclosure may be made even without a court order”.

“We earnestly request that the government, particularly the Department of Health (DOH), prudently uses and promptly shares medical information to enable all concerned authorities, institutions and persons to effectively take precautionary and remedial measures,” said the statement signed by Atty. Domingo Egon Cayosa, IBP national president; Dr. Jose Santiago Jr., PMA president; and Dr. Jose Antonio Salud, PCS president.

Justice secretary Menardo Guevarra affirmed the joint statement citing that it relieves DOH the tedious task of contact tracing.

“Both the Philippine Medical Association and the Data Privacy Commission provide the ethical and legal basis for this action in times of public health emergency, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) affirms its validity,” he said.

In Puerto Princesa City, a peak of PUI and PUM cases were seen after an Australian national, the lone reported COVID-patient in Palawan, tested positive for the deadly virus.

The management of Airswift Airline Inc. and Hue Hotel earlier denounced the actions of the local authorities which led to speculations in reporting because of the alleged non-transparency.

IBP, PMA, and PCS said that existing laws and rules grant the government sufficient authority to lift the confidentiality of medical information, and urged the government to promptly provide adequate safeguards to prevent further spread of the virus.

“The present pandemic requires proactive and decisive steps that must be based on facts, science, and the law, not on politics, posturing, or partiality,” the statement added.

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