April 30, 2020 | 1:08 PM GMT+0800 Last Edit: May 12, 2020
This joint statement is issued by the Department of Health and the National Privacy Commission in response to concerns raised by various stakeholders on the processing and disclosure of COVID-19 patient data, including those of COVID-19 suspect, probable, or confirmed patients.
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 disease surveillance and response.
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.
We reiterate our appeal to all COVID-19 suspect, probable, and confirmed patients. Your honesty and cooperation will allow our front liners to adopt appropriate measures to protect themselves.
Rest assured that the DOH only discloses these data to public health authorities and concerned health care providers for purposes of contact tracing and management of the disease. These personally-identifiable data may also be disclosed to other government entities authorized based on DOH guidelines.
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.
We also remind public health authorities, concerned health care providers, and other government entities to ensure and protect the privacy of COVID-19 patient data and the data privacy rights of the patients. 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.