Agencies And Referral Procedures For Communicable Disease In The Philippines

The threat of communicable diseases is serious and widespread. Communicable diseases are present anywhere and can spread rapidly, leaving people and communities at grave risk. Because of this, the prevention and control of communicable diseases in the country is of the utmost importance.

Government agencies were created to target the prevention and control of communicable and chronic diseases, as well as HIV, leptospirosis, dengue, measles, influenza, and others. The National Center for Disease Prevention and Control is the government agency responsible for conducting studies on the pathology of disease, its prevention, and cure.

The Department of Health (DOH) retains the overall technical authority on health, as it is a national health policy-maker and regulatory institution. Basically, DOH has three major roles in the health sector:

  1. Leadership in public health programs and policies
  2. Enabler and capacity builder of health institutions and infrastructure
  3. Administration of specific health services

The main

office of DOH is located in Santa Cruz, Manila. A secretary who is appointed by the president heads it. Several undersecretaries and assistance secretaries help coordinate the department’s work nationwide.

Together with its attached agencies, DOH, which is constituted of various bureaus and services, works to continuously improve the country’s healthcare system. In almost every town and city in the country, one can avail of municipal/city health centers, which are staffed by doctors, nurses, medical technologists, and other health workers. Depending on the kind of services one needs, the health center is ready to respond.

Under the municipal health center is the barangay health center. Its goal is to provide first aid, maternal and child health care, social disease diagnosis, and other basic health services to all the community members. It provides free services and medicine for those who need them.

Some of the DOH-attached agencies are as follows:

  • National Center for Disease Prevention and Control. The center is tasked with developing plans, policies, projects, and strategies for disease prevention and control and health protection. It is also tasked to provide coordination, capability building, and advisory services. Some of its well-know programs include the “Ligtas Tigdas” and “Kontra Dengue” programs which are conceptualized in coordination with this agency.
  • National Epidemiology Center. This agency is expected to develop surveillance and other health information systems. Part of its responsibilities is to maintain routine surveillance and other health information systems. The
    center keeps a Philippine HIV and AIDS registry of the total number of laboratory-confirmed AIDS cases and deaths, as well as HIV-positive persons in the Philippines. It also keeps a monthly morbidity calendar, and disease surveillance reports on leptospirosis, dengue, measles, and influenza.
  • Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. As the principal research arm of the Department of Health, it is mandated to conduct high quality multidisciplinary research and development and production of biological and vaccines that contribute significantly to the prevention and control of infectious and tropical diseases, especially those of public health importance. The detection of the deadly swine influenza or H1N1 virus and its antidote was part of the institute’s contribution toward the well-being of the citizenry.

Referral Procedures. The term “referral” means the recommendation of a person to a medical or paramedical professional for health assistance. In the aftermath of devastating natural disasters and other crisis situations, health facilities are often confronted with a demand for urgent treatment that far exceeds their capability to provide it. Referral systems help provide healthcare for those in need of further treatment. Beyond providing healthcare, referral systems are meant to reestablish health infrastructure, communication, and transport between primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare facilities. Referral systems have to be adapted to the specific crisis situation, which may be different from normal or other crisis services.

Oftentimes part of referral activities would be to facilitate hospital discharge for vulnerable patients, and to help them return home by providing transportation and a means of communication as may needed for further referral systems.

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