Public health emergencies: Guangzhou announces rules for social organizations

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Guangzhou, capital of China’s Guangdong province, recently issued a new set of regulations outlining how social organizations should respond to public health emergencies.

The “Social Organizations’ Response to Public Health Emergencies Prevention and Control” regulations are the first of their kind in the country. Approved and released by Guangzhou Municipal Social Organization Administration and Guangzhou Municipal Federation of Social Organizations, they will be officially implemented on Feb 1, 2022.

Led by Guangzhou Civil Affairs Bureau and Guangzhou Municipal Social Organization Administration, the new regulations were drawn up by Guangzhou Social Organization Federation, Guangzhou Social Organization Cultural Communication Association, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou Social Organization Research Institute, and the Care Center for Distressed Children (operated by Guangzhou Social Organization Association), along with other local social organizations.

The drafters of the regulations sorted through and analyzed relevant laws, regulations, policies and standards, and combined the practical experience of Guangzhou’s social organizations over the past two years.

The regulations outline scenarios in which different types of social organizations can participate in pandemic prevention and control. The regulations contain six main sections: basic principles, regular prevention and control management institutions, normalized prevention and control, emergency response, prevention and control participation, as well as supervision, inspection, evaluation and improvement.

Combining emergency management policies with sector characteristics, the regulations emphasize the coordination of everyday prevention and control with emergency response, providing a scientific basis and normalized guidance for social organizations to respond to public health emergencies such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

The regulations take into consideration the characteristics and expertise of different social organizations, such as charitable organizations, industry associations and chambers of commerce, pension institutions, childcare institutions, and relief organizations.

They set high standards and strict requirements to ensure the sensitive handling of and quick response to public health emergencies — from identifying an incident, to reporting and dealing with it.

Social organizations are not only required to do their own prevention and control work, but are also expected to actively assist in external prevention and control work.

The regulations specifically list “participation in external prevention and control work” as a section, in order to provide clear guidelines for social organizations to better assist in the prevention and control of emergent public health events. It also emphasizes that social organizations’ actions must be strictly in accordance with relevant laws and regulations and that they must demonstrate their social responsibility.