Last 7 April 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) spearheaded the celebration of the World Health Day with the theme "good health adds life to years." The event aimed to increase people's awareness on how good health can help older men and women become active and productive members of the society.

According to the WHO, humanity has been adding years to life over the past century. More and more people are surviving childbirth and childhood and adults are living longer than ever before. While these are great triumphs for the health sector, these also lead to a predictable and accelerated ageing of populations around the world.

The number of people aged 60 and over has doubled since 1980 and expected to rise from 10% to 22% in the next four decades. This will lead to increase in the number of people aged 60 years and over to 395 million between now and 2050. By then, older adults will outnumber children under the age of 15.

Population ageing presents both challenges and opportunities. If no action will be taken, population ageing may result in a shrinking workforce and an exponentially increasing demand for healthcare, social care and security. On the other hand, given good health and well-being, aged persons can contribute to their families and in the community.

"This requires a paradigm shift," said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO. "In order for this to happen, we should appreciate and enable older people to be an active participant in the community. We, policymakers, practitioners, the media, civil society organizations and people across all generations and countries, need to change the way we think and act about ageing."

Though the determinants of healthy and active ageing lie beyond the health system, the WHO said, ageing is a demographic challenge that demands response from the health sector. "That is why we need to tackle issues across life courses and in many social spheres while we, too, need to adapt," added Dr. Chan.

Among the recommended interventions of the WHO include: promoting healthy lifestyle across the courses of life by allowing older persons to continue to participate in social, economical, cultural, spiritual, and civic affairs regardless of their level of physical functional ability; creating age-friendly environments and policies to engage older men and women; and making primary healthcare that is age-friendly.

Dr. Chan also mentioned that in building age-friendly societies, it is crucial to involve other sectors. "Everyone's involvement is crucial here. World Health Day should be an opportunity for us to start a collective action to make this an age-friendly world."

To achieve Kalusugang Pangkalahatan or Universal Health Care, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Enrique Ona emphasized the research community’s vital role in improving the country’s health programs and services during the 30th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) at the Shangri-La Hotel Makati City on 16 March 2012.

“In order to be resource-wise in implementing health services and programs, research results are essential in coming up with evidence-based solutions to problems which will guide implementers and policymakers what programs should be prioritized, which interventions or courses of actions are cost-effective and have greater impact,” said Secretary Ona.

There are potential research areas that researchers should look into, according to Secretary Ona. These include studies on health financing, health facilities development, health manpower distribution and healthcare delivery in geographically isolated and disadvantage areas (GIDA).

Former President of the UP System Dr. Emerlinda Roman delivers speech for Senator Edgardo Angara

"Today, we know much more than we ever knew about the human body and the threats to it. We enjoy a wide range of technologies to facilitate discovery. As a result, new and unprecedented trends are emerging in the research arena," said Senator Edgardo J. Angara in his speech delivered by Dr. Emerlinda R. Roman, former President of the University of the Philippines (UP) System during the 30th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST).

According to Senator Angara, good research comes hand-in-hand with innovation. New information is put to use by innovation, and innovation opens doors to generate new information.

Congressman Angelo B. Palmones of AGHAM stresses his support for the PNHRS Bill


To address the pressing health needs of the Filipinos, one of the bills being pushed by the Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Mamamayan (AGHAM) Party List is the Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Act of 2011.

Titled, "An Act Institutionalizing the Philippine National Health Research System," the Bill mandates selected government agencies to allocate a percentage of their gross annual income to health R&D activities. When the bill turns into law, PNHRS will be assured of a stable fund source to support health researchers in generating ethical and relevant health knowledge and innovations.

To remove the Philippines from the list of the top rabies countries in the world, the national government enacted Republic Act 9482, also known as the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007. This law led to the creation of the National Anti-Rabies Committee and the National Anti-Rabies Program, the framework that promotes cooperation among government agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs) and people's organization (POs) for the prevention and control of rabies in the country.

"Cooperation is an essential strategy in the anti-rabies program. Without cooperation, the target to attain a rabies-free Philippines on 2020 may not be possible," said Atty. Heidi Caguioa of the Animal Kingdom Foundation during the Quezon City Rabies Prevention and Control Summit held at Quezon City Hall on 22 March 2012.

Even though the law has been in place since 2007, only few violators have been penalized and imprisoned according to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) of the Department of Agriculture (DA). "This is due to lack of cooperation and serious implementation of the law in some communities in the provinces and even in Metro Manila," said Atty. Caguioa.