MANILA, PHILIPPINES – ASEAN delegates urge for the inclusion of eHealth as one of the priority areas in Master Plan on ASEAN connectivity (MPAC), ASEAN Health Plan, and ASEAN Plan of Action for Science and Technology and Innovation (APASTI) during the Learning Interaction of eHealth Technologies in ASEAN conference which was held on 7-8 December 2017 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

In line with the 50th ASEAN celebration, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) and the Institute of Philippine Culture – Ateneo de Manila University (IPC-ADMU) supported by the ASEAN National Organizing Committee, organized the conference to understand prevailing policies, programs, and technologies on eHealth and health data governance in the ASEAN region. Ehealth practitioners, government officials, and representatives from various sectors from Thailand, Indonesia, and Philippines attended the conference.

In his welcome remarks, Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, PCHRD Executive Director, said that the Philippines has long been challenged by constraints in accessibility and availability of healthcare services and information, for this reason, DOST-PCHRD initiated the eHealth program to serve as one of the country’s primary strategy to reform the current healthcare system.

During their presentation, representatives from Thailand - Ms. Natsuda Kasisopha, Indonesia - Ms. Kincana Sari and Nurillah Amaliah, and Philippines - Dr. Anna Teresa de Guzman cited similar challenges in implementing eHealth policies and programs such as internet connectivity (infrastructure), interoperability of available technologies, and human resource capacity building.

To address these challenges, participants of the conference proposed some actions to move forward which include the following: development of guidelines and process flows specific to local health system adoption of eHealth systems that factors in governance, technical, and technology adoption issues; organization of fora for sharing the best practices and research and development on eHealth programs among the ASEAN member states; collaboration on the development of programs and research projects; and focus on eHealth as one of the priority areas in major plans.

The delegates hoped that through these initiatives, eHealth policies and programs in the ASEAN region will be in harmony and delivery of health services and management of health systems will be more efficient and effective.

The ASEAN eHealth concept note and plan of action presented by Ms. Charity Tan of the Department of Health and the evolving framework of the ASEAN health data governance and eHealth policies presented by Dr. Dennis Batangan of IPC-ADMU were also discussed during the conference.

Campaign Background
The 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW) is observed annually from November 25 to December 12 to raise awareness among all stakeholders that VAW is a public issue of national concern. It supports the Philippine Government’s goal to protect the human rights of women and its commitment to address all forms of VAW. The following issuances provide the national legal mandates for the annual campaign:
  • Proclamation 1172 s. 2006 – Declaring 25 November to 12 December as the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW)
  • Republic Act 10398 (2013) – Declaring November 25 of Every Year as National Consciousness Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Children

PCHRD-DOST Campaign Video here




Dr. Rody Sy presents the findings of his research entitled, “Genomic Research on Hypertension, Coronary Artery Disease, and Dyslipidemia towards the Development of Individualized Diagnostic and Therapeutic Strategies” at the Health Forum 2017 during the 13th National Biotechnology Week celebration.

With cardiovascular disease (CVDs) still the leading cause of death in Filipinos, this year’s health forum focused on genomic studies on CVDs. Organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) agencies, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) and the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), the forum showcased the progress on researches that explain how the structure, mapping, function, and evolution of a genes could lead to discoveries in treatment and management of CVDs.

Cardiovascular Diseases, also known as Lifestyle Related Noncommunicable Diseases, are illnesses that affect the heart and blood vessels. According to the Department of Health, CVDs such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases are the cause of more than half of all the deaths every year.

Researchers found an important connection between the interaction of genetic and environmental factors in finding treatment for diseases, thus, genomic studies became a popular field of study.  As explained by researchers, genomic tests, which will analyze the sets of DNA within a single cell, would help discover changes in structure, function, and mapping of the genes and help discover improvements in administering drugs for CVD patients.

To present the progress of their respective genomic research on CVDs, three speakers were invited namely: Dr. Rody Sy, Program Leader of the Cardiovascular Genetics Project of the Philippine Genome Center, Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-de la Paz, Project Leader and Vice Chancellor for Research of University of the Philippines Manila, and Ms. Frances Isabelle Jacalan, Science Research Specialist I, Nutrigenomics Unit of FNRI.

Dr. Sy discussed the importance of putting cardiovascular genetics research into clinical practice.  He explained how certain mutations in the chromosome could affect drug effectiveness and how genetic information could be used to guide drug treatments for CVDs.

Dr. Cutiongco-dela Paz, on the other hand, discussed the interplay of genomic association on treatment, diagnosis, and risk assessment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Highlight of her presentation are the identified biomarkers that would be helpful in creating effective treatment program for patients.

Differences in food preferences and nutrient intake of hypertensive and nonhypertensive adults was the focus of Ms. Jacalan’s presentation.  She explained that there are genomic indicators that affect taste receptors which influence the diet of an individual The result of the study revealed that hypertensive patients had preferences for sweet and salty rather than bitter or sour foods.

The health forum is part of the DOST-PCHRD and FNRI’s annual National Biotechnology Week celebration. This year’s forum, held on 21 November 2017 at the Brentwood Suites, Quezon City, was attended by health sciences students from the University of the Philippines Diliman, Philippine Women’s University, University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, Far Eastern University Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation, and Pampanga State Agricultural University.

"The 3rd Annual Balik Scientist Program (BSP) Convention could very well be a triple celebration," said Sec. Fortunato dela Peña.

With the theme “Balik Scientists: Partners in Harnessing Science for the People,” the event, held on 1 December 2017 at Sofitel Philippine Plaza, served as a venue to celebrate three important milestones for the program.

First, six Balik Scientists presented results of their research in the fields of health, industry, energy and emerging technology, and agriculture, aquaculture, and natural resources.

In the field of health, Dr. Annabelle P. Villalobos of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical R&D and Dr. Georgina “Ginny” E. Cruz of Monell Chemical Senses Center, presented results of their pharmacological studies.

Dr. Villalobos in her presentation entitled, “Case Study: Post Approval Change in Drug Formulation, Immunogenicity and Safety,” explained the biotech drug development process from laboratory to market, particularly the formulation changes required by regulatory agencies on EPREX, a drug used to treat anemia.

Dr. Cruz’s study entitled, “A Cross-cutting Transfer of Knowledge from Chemosensory Neuroscience to Drug Interaction Pharmacology,” revealed the relationship between neuroscience and pharmacology, explaining how improvement in odors and mixtures of drugs can cause changes in an individual’s sensory perceptions resulting to positive reactions in drug intakes.

Another highlight was the recognition given to BSP partner institutions such as De La Salle Health Sciences Institute, Holy Angel University, and Bohol Island University for their noteworthy assistance as hosts to the Balik Scientists. To show their appreciation to the Balik Scientists, testimonials were given on how their hosted scientists contributed to the improvement of their institutions.

Lastly, the approval of the Balik Scientist Bill was highlighted in the celebration.  Under the soon-to-be law, returning scientists will be able to enjoy tax exemptions, free medical and accident insurance, relocation benefits and allowances, and other subsidies.

As Hon. Divina Grace C. Yu, Zamboanga del Sur 1st District representative and principal author of the counterpart Balik Scientist Act, puts it, “…[With] the Balik Scientist Bill… coming [back] is not only a choice [for researchers], but also an opportunity to serve the country.”

For more information about the BSP and application process, you may visit the BSP website.

With the goal of introducing the country’s national health research repository, HERDIN or Health Research and Development Information Network database, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) visited various universities and institutions in Bacolod City from November 21-24, 2017. Highlight of the visits was the discussion on how the institution’s respective libraries can be linked to HERDIN and the announcements of the scheduled HERDIN training in the region on 9-11 January 2018.

Among the universities and institutions visited were as follows: Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, University of St. La Salle, Riverside College, Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod, University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, and Riverside Medical Center.

"HERDIN on tour" is an information caravan program by HERDIN that aims to introduce the service to various universities and institutions. For more information about the program, please visit the HERDIN website or follow the DOST-PCHRD on Facebook for upcoming HERDIN on tour schedules.