Health Emergency and Public Involvement in the Philippines: Syndromic Surveillance Efforts and System Integration

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In a country situated within the typhoon belt, the Philippines experience an average of 28 typhoons in a year with a minimum of two major typhoons causing great damage and loss of lives. Acknowledging that disaster preparedness, response, and rescue require a multidimensional approach, emergency clusters recognize the need for an ICT platform that will consolidate disaster information coming from various sources including the public. The Philippine government, through the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Health Insurance Company (PHIC), has mandated all rural health units to select and use an electronic medical record (EMR) system for digitizing health records. The digitization of health records in primary care is the first step in achieving universal health care for the country at the same time providing a more efficient way of accessing health records during emergencies. This chapter discusses efforts and experiences in the development and deployment of eHealth systems at three levels: (1) digitizing health records (SHINE OS+), (2) syndromic surveillance (FASSSTER), and (3) seamless integration with a disaster management system (HDDX), all of which provide a preventive approach in health emergencies and extreme disasters. SHINE OS+ is a web- and mobile-based electronic medical and referral system that is used by rural health units to digitize and submit health data for Primary Care Benefit (PCB) program and eClaims. FASSSTER is an online syndromic surveillance tool that collects information from electronic medical records, other eHealth systems, and social media to develop a geospatial disease forecast model. However, the lack of a unified disaster management system that provides health-related information motivated the development of HDX (Health Disaster Exchange) comprising of API endpoints to integrate health information in disaster management systems. The chapter ends with perspectives on use of ICT for health emergency and disaster risk management practices and how the public provides both personal and social contributions to zero casualty.