Filipino and Japanese researchers detected human adenovirus (HAdV) serotype 7, a virus causing acute lower respiratory infection, among young infants who suffered from severe pneumonia and causing high fatality rate.

Pneumonia is a form of respiratory infection affecting lungs, which is the leading cause of death in children worldwide. Caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi, pneumonia may develop to severe stage when the child has difficulty in breathing, inability to eat, lethargy, unconsciousness, vomiting, and convulsions.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), different pathogens causing pneumonia and its transmission are in need of more research as these are crucial for its treatment and prevention.

Focusing on pneumonia cases at Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC), a tertiary governmental hospital located in Tacloban city, researchers found that a number of baby patients with severe pneumonia were also HAdV-positive and the fatality rate of these cases was considerably high (44%).

In fatal cases, infants began to show respiratory symptoms within seven days prior to admission and all died due to secondary respiratory failure within three days (two cases within 24 hours) of admission, indicating a rapid deterioration caused by HAdV infection.

Sustained monitoring on the basis of molecular epidemiological methods is required to reveal background of pneumonia patients with HAdV infections [and] to further develop public health strategies,” researchers proposed.

The study is published in the Journal of Japanese Infectious Disease in 2014 and also available online in Pubmed at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pudmed.

 
Dr. Encarnita Raya-Ampil at PCHRD 32nd Anniversary

In taking care of people with dementia, family members and workers in the Philippines found to practice non-pharmacological (no drugs) therapies at home such as reminiscence and music, according to Dr. Encarnita Raya-Ampil of the University of Santo Tomas during the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) 32nd Anniversary.

About 35.6 million people suffer from dementia worldwide with 7.7 million new cases every year based on the World Health Organization (WHO) report. Although dementia is not curable, medication and non-pharmacological therapies are necessary to improve the quality of life of dementia patients. Yet, with poverty and expensive cost of dementia treatments, Dr. Ampil said many patients in the country could not afford such treatments.

Exploring non-pharmacological therapies for dementia patients, Dr. Ampil and her co-researchers initially found low-cost interventions that could be administered at home: reminiscence therapy and music therapy. In reminiscence therapy, dementia patients are encouraged to remember by discussing past activities, events, and life experiences using photographs, household and other familiar items. Alternatively, music therapy allows patients to listen to familiar music, play instruments, and write songs.

“These simple non-pharmacological therapies such as reminiscence and music can be standardized so that people at home can easily give them to people with dementia,” advised Dr. Ampil.

Dementia is a syndrome in which memory, thinking, behaviour, and the ability to perform everyday activities begin to deteriorate, affecting mainly older people.

“Our vision is to become the powerhouse of health research in the country,” said Dr. Josefina P. Tuazon, President of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) Scholars Society (PSS) and former Dean of the College of Nursing, University of the Philippines Manila (UPM) during the PSS Convention at Makati Shangri-La Hotel on 14 March 2014.

According to Dr. Josefina Tuazon, the PSS will focus on capacity building this year to help PCHRD develop the critical mass of health research human resource in the country. In fact, PSS has created new committees for capacity building where scholars become trainers or mentors to health researchers.

PCHRD taps the expertise of its scholars in the council’s capacity building program. According to Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, PCHRD Executive Director, the scholars help the Regional Health Research and Development Consortia (RHRDC) not only as mentors, research evaluators, but as researchers themselves.

Dr. Montoya encouraged scholars to be part of the country’s health research pool. “The PCHRD would like to contribute to your individual and professional growth, as you help us address the country’s pressing health problems. Your success is also the success of PCHRD and the community that you serve.”

Meanwhile, the PSS launched its new website to enable other members to participate in the society through its online membership application and database. The website will serve as a channel for information dissemination among its members and target clienteles. PCHRD scholars and graduates are encouraged to register at http://pss.pchrd.dost.gov.ph/.

PSS is an organized group of PCHRD scholars aimed to assist PCHRD in fulfilling its mission in creating and sustaining an enabling environment for health research in the country.

 
Secretary Mario G. Montejo of Department of Science and Technology (left) and Prof. Carel IJsselmuiden of Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED) (right) during the signing of the Agreement for hosting the Global Forum for Health Research

MANILA, Philippines—Secretary Mario G. Montejo of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Prof. Carel IJsselmuiden of Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED) signed the agreement for the Philippines to host the Global Forum for Health Research 2015 in Manila last 14 March 2014 during the 32nd Anniversary of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) at Makati-Shangri – La Hotel, Makati City.

The Global Forum 2015 will bring a new level of recognition for Manila and the Philippines as a conference venue for health research. In the process, the Philippine health research and innovation community benefits through the exchange of expertise and information between and among international partners.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by representatives from the Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, His Excellency Uye Myintuang, the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, Mr. R. Toto Waspodo, Head of Chancery, and Ms. Erna Herlina, First Secretary, Economic and almost 500 health research stakeholders from various sectors.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Secretary Montejo expressed DOST’s full support for the Global Forum. The Forum, he said, will have impact on the country’s health R&D and expects better exchange of knowledge and research information.

Prof IJsselmuiden said that the Global Forum will help low and middle income countries participate in setting a global research agenda and providing solutions through science, technology and innovations for health.

Forensic expert from the University of the Philippines Manila, Dr. Racquel Fortun, recommended ways to improve the retrieval and identification of the dead during disasters based on her experience with typhoon Yolanda. They are as follows:

  • A plan on how to collect, accommodate, examine and dispose massive number of dead bodies must be developed. This will ensure that issues concerning the remains, such as retrieval, identification, storage, and burial, are systematically conducted by the right people and agencies. As she recounted in Leyte, victims’ bodies were randomly picked as they were found. Necessary equipment and tools to preserve the bodies, such as refrigerated storage trucks, were not available.
  • Identify responsible agency for the handling of the remains. The Department of Health (DOH) must primarily coordinate the identification of the dead because death investigation is a health issue.
  • National government should mobilize health volunteers from unaffected areas who will support the disaster operations. This will ensure that help is always available to the affected areas especially when the local health professionals are also victims of the tragedy.
  • A system for death investigation of mass casualties must put in place. The system will enable for organized forensic investigation of the remains to properly establish the fact of death, identify the deceased, and determine the cause and manner of demise. While DNA testing would have been helpful for forensic investigation in Tacloban, Dr. Fortun said that the lack of a system and the magnitude of the tragedy hindered them from using the technology for accurate DNA identifications of the victims.

According to Dr. Fortun, establishing the victims’ identities is important, not for the dead, but for the living relatives because it has both emotional and legal implications to them. As Dr. Fortun explained, legal declaration of death helps settle issues on inheritance, remarriage, and criminal cases. It also helps families find closure from the death.

Dr. Fortun presented these recommendations during the 32nd Anniversary celebration of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) on 14 March 2014.