February 3, 2023

A city councilor is seeking for the institutionalization of a city epidemiological and surveillance system in Baguio as a responsive mechanism against emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

In a proposed ordinance, Councilor Joel Alangsab sought for the creation of the City Epidemiological and Surveillance Unit (CESU) to be lodged at the City Health Services Office as a unit under the Health Service Delivery Division.

The proposed ordinance is aligned with the principles of the Universal Health Care and Republic Act 22332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

The proposal provided the CESU shall consist of medical doctors as team leaders, a public health nurse as a disease surveillance officer, a registered medical technologist, a field health service information system coordinator, and an encoder.

The CESU shall set up, manage, and maintain public health surveillance systems including continuous collection, encoding, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of health data.

It shall also conduct trainings on data collection, analysis, interpretation, representation, and dissemination of health data and monitor occurrence/prevalence of re-emerging infectious diseases in coordination with the Health Care Providers Network (HCPN) members, public/private entities, and the Department of Health and/or other national government agencies.

The CESU shall conduct epidemiologic studies including outbreak investigations, surveys, and program evaluation; provide technical assistance on epidemiology particularly on diseases prevention and control; and maintain and improve surveillance systems in coordination with appropriate local and national agencies.

The proposed ordinance provides that the city government, upon consultation with the HCPN and other stakeholders, shall endeavor to meet the minimum health system capacity standards for emerging and reemerging diseases such as infrastructure and equipment, commodities and supplies, organizational plans and processes, and health human resources.

It shall be mandatory for HCPN members to report notifiable diseases and health events of public health concern to the CESU regardless of number, scale, and coverage. The CESU shall be the primary reporting unit in the HCPN.

Public and private physicians, allied medical personnel, professional societies, hospitals, clinics, health facilities, laboratories, institutions, workplaces, schools, prisons, ports, airports, establishments, communities, government agencies, and non-government organizations are required to accurately and immediately report notifiable diseases and health events of public health concern to the CESU.

Each health facility shall strictly implement and observe the necessary infection prevention and control protocols set by the World Health Organization, DOH, and the local government unit in relation to the protection of its staff members, clients, patients, and constituents.

The proposed ordinance added that data collection, analysis, and dissemination of information from official disease surveillance and response systems can only be done by authorized personnel from the CESU, the DOH, and other authorized entities pursuant to the provisions of the Data Privacy Act of 2012 and related policies.

During outbreaks or epidemics, each facility shall ensure that all the necessary preparatory, response, contingency, and rehabilitation plans are finalized, updated as necessary, and submitted to requesting local and national authorities for the consolidation of needs and allocation of resources.

All members shall endeavor to achieve the minimum health system capacity targets to ensure that all persons or cases and their contacts are detected, isolated, and treated as per protocols issued by the DOH.

The proposed ordinance was referred to the committee on health and sanitation, ecology, and environmental protection. – Jordan G. Habbiling