Photo from inquirer.net

With rapid progress on technology, internet has been within reach. A lot of stores and areas offer free wi-fi. Even phones and tablets have built-in wi-fi. As internet becomes accessible, more and more people join social networking site, particularly Facebook.

Facebook has been the world’s biggest social networking site with more than one billion users, which allows its users to have public profiles and connect with one another by posting information and messages.  In the Philippines, there are more than 27,700,000 Facebook users, mostly18-24 years old, according to the 2012 data of SocialBakers (a social media analyst company).

Though Facebook is intended for personal interest, some organizations now utilize it for marketing their products and services, or raising people’s awareness.  True enough, disseminating food and nutrition information through Facebook improves nutrition knowledge of college students, according to an undergraduate study of Manila Tytana College.

Student researchers created a Facebook page, NUTRI-CLICK, where three lessons were disseminated: nutrition, fruits, and vegetables. Nutrition experts and panel members validated these lessons before uploading it to the page. Comparing the pre-test and post-test results, college students’ knowledge improved from satisfactory to excellent level.

Researchers proposed to utilize online nutrition education program as a way to communicate health information and hopefully, make an impact on communities.

The study won 1st place in nutrition and dietetics category at 39th Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) Undergraduate Research Paper Competition held last July 2013, which was sponsored by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).

 
 

The University of the Philippines Manila will produce the first-ever genetic counsellors in the Philippines after establishing Master’s Degree Program in Genetic Counselling in 2011.

Dr. Carmencita Padilla, the Director of Newborn Screening Reference Center – National Institutes of Health, and Mercy Laurino, a genetic counsellor from the University of Washington, collaborated in developing the Philippines’ first genetic counselling program. Ms. Laurino, an awardee of the Balik Scientist Program (BSP) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), shared the importance of genetic counselling to health professionals in the country.

In her presentation during the 6th International Conference on Birth Defects and Disabilities in the Developing World (ICBD), she described genetic counsellors as “health professionals with specialized graduate degree and experience in areas of medical genetics and counselling”. They help identify families at risk of birth defects and explain its reasons.  In prenatal setting, mothers will be informed if their babies might have a birth defect so they could make informed decisions and develop family coping skills.

Ms. Laurino affirmed that genetic counselling program would increase the appreciation of genetic counselling as part of clinical medical genetics service, offer genetic education to patients and members of the family, refer patients and families to community and/or local government support services, and develop policies and practice guidelines to implement genetic counselling clinical services programs.

“It serves as a model on how to successfully develop and implement similar genetic counselling training programs in other developing countries,” Ms. Laurino emphasized.

Medical service at home is one of the top needs of elderly in indigenous people communities in South Cotobato, Sarangani, and General Santos City, based on a study entitled, “Health and Lifestyle of Moro and Indigenous Aged People in SoCSarGen”.

Aside from having frail bodies, elderly often live in far-flung areas. Community clinics, however, are available in the region but far from the indigenous people’s (IP) homes.

Some elderly are also relying on herbal medicines instead of calling physicians for medical assistance due to its cost. In fact, surveys revealed that 66% of indigenous people have family income of less than P 5,000 per month, which could be the possible cause of not availing health services. Twenty percent of the respondents had not seen a medical doctor in their lifetime.

Addressing these increasing concerns on IP’s health as part of universal healthcare (UHC) strategy, the Department of Health (DOH) signed the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2013-01 or “Guidelines on the Delivery of Basic Health Services for Indigenous Peoples/Indigenous Cultural Communities (IPs/ICCs)” in June 2013 together with the National Center for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). The circular addresses concerns on access, utilization, coverage and equity on basic healthcare services of IPs.

The study was funded by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) under the Department of Science and Technology in cooperation with Mindanao State University (MSU) in General Santos City.

Gumamela is not just a blossom of beauty but a possible ingredient for good health.

A study conducted by Davao Medical School Foundation revealed that Gumamela flower (Hibiscus rosa-sinensisis) contains ingredients that maybe used to prevent cancer, by inhibiting mutation of cancer cells in human body.

Cancer is a result of genetic mutation when our bodies exposed to carcinogens (cancer causing substances). A single abnormal cell will grow, leading to multiple mutations to form tumors. Tumor cells eventually invade and destroy normal cells.

In the laboratory experiments (Modified Ames Salmonella Assay), the researchers tested the anti-mutagenic properties or the ability to control mutation of gumamela flower extracts to the growth of mutant salmonella bacteria.  They compared effects to Mytomycin C, a standard mutagen (positive control) and mineral water as negative control.

Results showed that gumamela extracts significantly decreased the growth (mutation) of salmonella compare to Mytomycin C and mineral water. In fact, the study highlighted that even with the presence of mutagen (agent that promotes mutation), gumamela extracts have successfully halted the bacteria’s growth in most of the trials conducted.

According to the study, these effects maybe attributed to the active ingredients in gumamela such as flavanoids and proanthocyanins, the phytochemical components that act as powerful antioxidants and free radical scavengers. Proanthocyanins trap hydroxyl, lipid peroxides and other damaging free radicals and stimulate cells to produce detoxifying enzymes. Meanwhile, flavanoid is one of the few free radical scavengers that protect the body against fat and water soluble free radicals.

With these findings, researchers claimed that gumamela is a potential natural resource that can prevent the development of cancer cell in human body.

The study was funded by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) through its Regional Research Fund in Region 11.

 
Photo by DOST-PAGASA

Amidst the threat of typhoons, hot temperature, and earthquakes in the Philippines,Region 1 residents showed “high” extent of adaptive practices against climate change effects, according to the study of University of Northern Philippines (UNP). The study was funded by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).

Though climate change has steered intense debate, human activities are still pointed as its main cause. Climate change, however, poses risks not just on individuals’ health but also on the environment and agriculture. Storms, droughts, and extreme temperature continue to intensify, especially in tropical regions, which lead to challenges in agricultural production and prevalence of health risks.

The study found different practices of Region 1 residents to adapt on the continuing effects of climate change. To beat the extremely hot temperature, most of them drink more water to prevent dehydration. Their immediate concern on dehydration is influenced by their occupation of farming and fishing, where they toil under the heat of the sun.

Since extreme hot temperature is caused by gases produced from burning fossil fuels for electricity, residents switch off their appliances at home when not in use. Researchers explained that residents also wanted to avoid paying high electric consumption.

In case of drought, agricultural productivity in the region decreases, resulting to food shortage. Thus, residents plant vegetables in their backyards for alternative source of food.

The “high” extent of adaptive practices among residents of Region 1 is associated with their “very high” level of knowledge on the climate change effects along their health, environment and agriculture. Therefore, researchers recommended to increase awareness of communities on climate change effects and possible adaptive practices to fight these adverse effects.

As part of raising awareness on climate change, the Department of Health (DOH) declares November 19-25, 2013 as climate change consciousness week.