Wegotmail: The best remedy for contagious illnesses? Legislation! (Part 1)


Four years after the outbreak of the dreadful Covid-19 pandemic in the Philippines, our country is yet again facing the threat of an invisible but lethal enemy. The Pertussis cough arrived at a critical juncture in the Philippines’ public health governance. Specifically, our legislation or more appropriately, the lack of said legislation. Facing recurring threats posed by contagious diseases, both viral and bacterial, the Filipino people hold their breath while the government grapples with this deficiency.

The Department of Health (DOH) reported that the number of pertussis cases in the country reached 568 with 40 deaths from January 1 to March 16, 2024. The respiratory illness, most commonly known as whooping cough, is caused by bacteria, as opposed to the virus that caused the infamous COVID-19 pandemic. This does not make it less dangerous. Hospitalization of severe pertussis infections was reported across all age groups, but according to study results published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, the most vulnerable to the infection were the young and old.

The current issue with Pertussis or whooping cough and its predecessor, the infamous covid 19 epidemic is directly related to the Philippines’ lack of existing legislation supporting the health sector's holistic prevention of contagious diseases and illnesses. Yes, there are legislations in place for disease surveillance and reporting. Namely, Republic Act No. 11332, otherwise known as the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act”.

Unfortunately, the act primarily focuses on the efficient disease surveillance of notifiable diseases rather than preemptive measures to mitigate the spread of the contagious illness. The act lives up to its name, it mandates the reporting of notifiable diseases to provide an effective response system in cases of pandemics, epidemics, and other such public health emergencies. I do not discount the significance and function of this law, it is indeed important for the country’s health apparatus to have a framework for the surveillance and notification of contagious illnesses. However, it is undeniable that the absence of targeted laws relating to preemptive measures to stop the spread is a huge liability and loophole in the country’s capability to enact preventive measures and address the root causes of the infection.

Christal Mae Napone




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