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Protecting privacy in mandatory reporting of infectious diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic: perspectives from a developing country
  1. Gürkan Sert1,
  2. Ertunç Mega2,
  3. Ayşegül Karaca Dedeoğlu3
  1. 1 Medical Ethics, Marmara University, Istanbul, Turkey
  2. 2 Health Law, Istanbul Medipol University, Istanbul, Turkey
  3. 3 Vocational School of Justice, Karabuk University, Karabuk, Turkey
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ertunç Mega, Health Law, Istanbul Medipol University, Istanbul 34110, Turkey; drertuncmega{at}


Mandatory reporting of infectious diseases (MRID) is an essential practice to prevent disease outbreaks. Disease notification is a mandatory procedure for most infectious diseases, even during non-pandemic periods in healthcare. The main rationale behind MRID is the protection of public health. The information and data provided by infectious disease reports are used for many purposes, such as preventing the spread and potential negative impact of infectious diseases, assessing the national and global situation regarding reported diseases, conducting scientific research and planning health policy. In this context, the relevant information benefits public health, health systems and scientific work. Additionally, the follow up and treatment of individuals with infectious diseases is a necessity in certain cases to protect those who cohabit with them. However, these benefits cannot be accepted as unrestricted justifications for MRID, since it is evident that reporting should be conducted within ethical and legal boundaries. MRID should only be devised and implemented with due regard to balancing potential benefits between all individuals, as well as between the individual and the rest of society. Disease notification systems that are not designed with a balancing and harm-reductionist approach may lead to stigmatisation and discrimination. This study aims to investigate the legal framework and ethical issues regarding the reporting of individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 in Turkey—which is a primary example of a developing country.

  • confidentiality/privacy
  • COVID-19
  • informed consent
  • law
  • public law

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  • Contributors GS developed the concept for the article with consultation and expansion from EM and AKD. GS and AKD performed the literature review and primary drafting, while EM provided revisions and expansion on concepts. GS is the guarantor for the overall content.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.