Institutionalization of the Philippine Health Laboratory System (PHLS)
Keywords:public health laboratory, national reference laboratory, laboratory network, laboratory system
In 1966, Section 3 of Republic Act (R.A.) 4688, entitled “An Act Regulating the Operation and Maintenance of Clinical Laboratories and Requiring the Registration of the Same with the Department of Health, Providing Penalty for the Violation Thereof, and for Other Purposes,” provided for the establishment of the Bureau of Research and Laboratories (BRL) under the Department of Health (DOH). The BRL served as the central laboratory that governed the operation of regional public health laboratories. The BRL’s function was delegated to different offices in 2000 by Executive Order 102 s. 1999 entitled “Redirecting the Functions and Operations of the Department of Health,” which was premised in part with Section 78 of the General Provisions of R.A. 8522 (“General Appropriations Act of 1998”) authorizing the President to direct changes in organization and key positions of any department, bureau, or agency.
Towards this direction, the function of the BRL was distributed to different agencies, and the Philippines designated six (6) national reference laboratories that catered to communicable and non-communicable diseases. Five (5) subnational reference laboratories for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases were established in response to the 2009 Influenza AH1N1 pandemic. The DOH issued Administrative Order No 2012-0021 to establish a national and regional network of laboratories.
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