According to the Department of Health (DOH), a total of 131 827 dengue cases were reported in 2017 which was 36.9 percent lower than the cases recorded in 2016. Although this is a considerably lower amount, dengue remains as one of the most fatal epidemics in the country.

June was declared Dengue Awareness Month (Proclamation No. 1204) since 1998 to highlight how prevention and control of dengue would require collaborative efforts among national and local government agencies as well as private NGOs.

PCHRD supports dengue research

The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development supports studies aiming to improve the current situation of dengue. Some of the Council’s assisted projects have won and been recognized in various R&D invention contests and exhibits. One of them is the OL Trap technology featured at the R&D 100 magazine which chose to honor 100 technologies that are deemed to have great contributions to S&T development. More recently, BIOTEK-M Dengue Aqua Kit was one of the gold awardees during the 46th International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva, Switzerland.

OL Trap technology makes use of simple and readily-available materials that attracts female Aedes Aegypti (dengue carrier) to lay eggs on a strip soaked with larvicide solution. The absorbed solution from the lawanit strip eventually kills the egg and larvae preventing the mosquito to reach maturity. OL Trap kits are commercially-available and may be purchased in selected markets nationwide.

BIOTEK-M Dengue Aqua Kit is a commercialized and locally-developed technology designed to accurately detect dengue. It uses isothermal PCR technology, in which the nucleic acid is extracted from the blood and added to a mixture. After an hour, the mixture will change color: green indicates a positive result, orange negative. The kit is very affordable which costs only a third of the usual dengue kit detection used in hospitals. BIOTEK-M is designed to accurately detect dengue.

In the spirit of awareness, the Council encourages everyone to follow simple but effective steps like removing or covering all possible areas with stagnant water, installing screens on window or opening of the house, investing in mosquito repellant, wearing long-sleeved shirts when outdoors, and getting a vaccination to avoid being infected with the disease.


Alugbati is one of the widely consumed vegetables in Asia, however it is relatively understudied for its benefits. It is known to exhibit a wide range of biological functions and is traditionally recognized as a medical plant with anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, and anti-cancer potential.

Asst. Professor Darcy Garza from the Department of Chemistry at De La Salle University, presented the study entitled “The Genotoxic Potential of Basella alba Linn. Var. rubra on MCF-7 Cells” during the Metro Manila Health Research and Development Consortium’s (MMHRDC) 2nd International Symposium and 9th Annual Scientific Conference Oral Presentation held on 24-25 May 2018 at Pan Pacific Hotel, Manila. The event was bannered by the theme “Food Fortification in Universal Health Care.”  The study was recognized as the best research presented during the conference.

The study was a result of the collaboration of De La Salle University and St. Luke’s Medical Center. The research determined the genotoxicity of alugbati leaf extracts on MCF-7 cells which is the most studied human breast cancer cell line in the world. The researchers found out that alugbati leaves subjected to enzyme-assisted hydrolysis or juice extractions prepared in an organosulfur compound caused considerable damage in MCF-7 cells. This means that alugbati shows promising properties that could fight off breast cancer cell lines.

Three outstanding researches were also recognized during the conference. “Multi-core Microencapsulation of Lactobacillus acidophilus using Lipid-based Material and Carbohydrate-based Matrix for Functional Food Application,” “Characterization of In Vitro Effects of Using Purified Coconut Oil Bodies as Encapsulating Agents for Doxorubicin and Paclitaxel,” and “An Evaluation on Nicotine Absorption and Health Risk Utilizing Human Scum Cotinine and Polycyclic aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) Among Filipino Classical Cigarette Users and E-Cigarette Users” won first, second, and third respectively.

To officially close the conference, NIH Executive Director Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-De La Paz delivered the closing remarks. She thanked the organizers and delegates for the hard work and reminded everyone that it is important to remember the role of food fortification in the control of micronutrient deficiency and malnutrition in the country. Finally, she urged everyone to conduct more research that would support food fortification and continue to do good work in promoting a healthier Filipino nation.

The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), together with #HealthXph and Alliance for Improving Health Outcomes (AIHO), will hold the 4th Philippine Healthcare and Social Media Summit on 9 June 2018 at Grand Regal Hotel, Davao City.

Bannered by the theme “Social Media and Health Professions Education: Shaping the Future through Research and Innovation,” the summit will highlight the impact of social media in health professions, education, and research.

Participants from different sectors are expected to take part in the 6 tracks and healthcare social media research podium presentation. The program tracks are Track 1: Use of social media by teachers in health professions education, Track 2: Use of social media by students, Track 3: Establishing personal learning networks on Twitter for medical educators and healthcare professionals, Track 4: Building presence for advocacies on social media, Track 5: Developing policies for social media, and Track 6: Social media for patients and advocates.

Admission to the summit is free. Interested participants may register at

Article by: Lemuel Basierto

Dr. Visith Chavasit, Professor at Mahidol University–Thailand, Dr. Drajat Matianto, Vice Rector of Bogor Agricultural University–Indonesia, and Dr. Enrique Ostrea Jr., Professor at Wayne State University Michigan, presented their research and insights on food fortification science at the 2nd International Symposium and 9th Annual Scientific Conference of Metro Manila Health Research and Development Council on 24-25 May at Pan Pacific Manila.

Highlighting the theme “Food Fortification in Universal Healthcare,” Philippine Council for Health Research and Development Executive Director, Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, through a speech read by Ms. Carina Rebulanan, said that “Food fortification has been an effective bridge in bringing together several elements to effectively combat malnutrition.”

“It’s cost-effective, it has a wide scale and impact; and it targets staple foods that are available and are part of the daily diet of individuals,” she added while explaining the importance of food fortification as part of malnutrition reduction programs to improve overall global health.

Dr. Chavasit discussed achieving optimal population health and nutrition through food fortification. He explained the best practices involved in creating better fortified foods, shedding light on the importance of developing programs that could be received better by the consumers.

He also shared the impact of the Universal Salt Iodization, a main strategy in eliminating iodine deficiency through iodizing all edible salt whether household, processed food, and animal salt. He emphasized how the program can drastically reduce the risks of mental retardation in children.

The food fortification initiatives in the ASEAN region was discussed by Dr. Matianto. He explained that there are three strategies in addressing micronutrient deficiencies in the region, namely supplementation, food diversification, and food fortification.

Dr. Matianto explained how food fortification is believed to be the best and most efficient choice since its cost efficiency also contributes to poverty alleviation and improvement of household food security. He also highlighted the mandatory program scheme of food fortification in Indonesia which fortifies salt with iodine, wheat flour with iron, zinc, and vitamin B, and palm oil with vitamin A.

Dr. Ma. Esterlita V. Uy of the University of the Philippines–Manila National Institutes of Health presented Dr. Enrique M. Ostrea Jr.’s study on the effects of food fortification with Moringa oleifera (malunggay) in the IQ of children. The research delves on how the enrichment of snacks with iodine and protein led to the significant increase in the IQ, weight, and hematocrit of daycare students in Malolos City, Bulacan. The study noted the increase in the IQ of the children ranging from five to eight points through 10 continuous months of feeding with snacks fortified with malunggay compared to the control population.

The conference also included poster and photo exhibits by students and researchers centered on food fortification research.

The Metro Manila Health Research and Development Consortium (MMHRDC) is part of the regional consortia under the Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS). The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development serves as the PNHRS Secretariat, providing technical and administrative support to the consortia network.