DOH, NPC affirm privacy protection of Covid-19 related data

The Department of Health (DOH) and the National Privacy Commission (NPC) issued a joint statement on Thursday, April 30, affirming the privacy of Covid-19 patient data including those of Covid-19 suspect, probable, or confirmed patients.

In processing Covid-19 patient data in pursuit of disease surveillance and response, the two government agencies said they are both upholding 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.

“As we call on all Covid-19 patients to truthfully and accurately disclose their personal data to proper authorities to help fight this pandemic, the DOH guarantees that the data privacy rights of these patients are protected. 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,” the joint statement said.

Even as it asked Covid-19 suspect, probable, and confirmed patients to truthfully disclose their health status to protect medical frontliners, the DOH assured that their data will only be divulged to public health authorities and health care providers for purposes of contact tracing and management of the disease.

“In these instances, public health authorities, concerned health care providers, and other government entities who are custodians of patients’ personal data have the legal obligation to protect the data privacy rights of these patients and ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their personal data,” the statement read.

“This way, we can 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. Fostering mutual trust and protection between patients and authorities is an indispensable part of our fight to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic,” it added.

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