Public health agencies should be allowed to collect certain types of health information about individuals. This is the case as it allows them to plan better, take preventive action against public health threats, injury and disease. Emergency preparedness and response is predicated on having good and reliable information. Government agencies and public health agencies should therefore be allowed to collect the necessary information about individuals.
That would make their planning and execution of vital services to the public better and easier. This collection of individual information should however be kept as confidential as possible by those agencies that use it.
Public health agencies usually rely on cooperation with other government agencies to ensure that their interventions during crisis and emergencies are successful. To adequately plan for the best ways to respond to emergencies, the public health agencies would therefore need to have adequate information about other government agencies. This is because these government agencies have resources that can be used in taking preventative action or in responding to emergencies. By having information about these government agencies, the public health agencies can then plan on how to best coordinate the emergency response using its own as well as other government agencies resources.
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US law has established the “Privacy Rule” which spells out national minimum standards to safeguard the privacy of “protected health information (PHI)”. This refers to health information that can be the individually identifiable. The law guarantees patients a number of rights regarding respect to information concerning them. However, US law allows for the collection of individual information subject to adherence by those using it to privacy considerations.
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