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.



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.

The workshop aims to revisit the draft PBN Business Process Model, to discuss various issues on data and sample acquisition and management for the PBN operations, and to adopt PBN-wide guidelines to ensure that all relevant data are identified, gathered, transmitted, and stored in a central facility which will be made accessible to stakeholders.

PBN, a DOST-funded program aims to establish a central, coordinating network of institutions that will biobank indigenous medicinal plants of the Philippines. The program is implemented by five institutions namely, the Institute of Biological Sciences – University of the Philippines Los Baños (IBS-UPLB), National Plant Genetic Resources Laboratory, UPLB (NPGRL-UPLB), Institute of Biology, UP Diliman (IB-UPD), National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (NIMBB-UPD) & DNA Sequencing and Bioinformatics Facility, Philippine Genome Center (DSBF-PGC-UP System), and the Marine Science Institute-UP Diliman (MSI-UPD). Each of the program’s four of 5 agencies focuses on specific biospecimen such as live plants (IBS-UPLB), seeds (NPGRL-UPLB), plant extracts (IB-UPD), and DNA/RNA (NIMBB, UPD & DSBF-PGC), while the 5th institute (MSI-UPD) deals with the network’s sample and data management system.

In the workshop, the first four PBN Projects (1 to 4) that deal with biospecimens discussed their planned activities and expected data to be generated, which served as a context for further discussion on data and sample management strategies. Towards the end of the workshop, several concepts and views were expressed to ensure that all kinds of data for the program are captured and well-managed. Also, all processes necessary to generate data for the program were made more defined and detailed.

The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) monitors the implementation of PBN under its Tuklas Lunas Program.



The Department of Health (DOH), through its AHEAD (Advancing Health through Evidence-Assisted Decisions) strategy, aims to inform the health sector’s global and national administrative and legislative policy agenda, create an equitable and enabling environment for health policy and systems researchers all over the country, and ensure the progressive realization of the envisioned research system.

With the continued commitment of DOH in training the next generation for health sector leaders, researchers, policy analysts, and program managers, they have partnered with the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research Development (DOST-PCHRD) in order to implement the DOH Research Fellowship Program.

Objectives:

  1. Train young professionals in conceptualizing, developing, implementing, and communicating health research of national and global policy significance
  2. Produce and use research evidence to influence national policy-making and legislation, and program development, and implementation
  3. Establish a cadre of young professionals with emerging expertise in the field of health systems research, policy, and data analysis, research communication, and research management

Scope of Work:

  1. Identify research gaps in health policy and systems
  2. Develop and design a health policy and systems research addressing identified research gaps/ health policy and systems issues
  3. Collect and analyze data using a range of quantitative and qualitative techniques
  4. Systematically search, appraise and synthesize research evidence
  5. Communicate evidence to influence policy-making and legislation through the development of policy briefs, policy notes and other knowledge products as appropriate
  6. Apply research evidence in day-to-day practice to improve health policy and systems
  7. Participate in research capacity building activities organized by DOH
  8. Comply with DOH standards and protocols

Deliverables:

  1. Publishable collaborative research article
  2. Collaborative health policy analysis
  3. Research brief/s
  4. Technical review or critical appraisal of a proposed or completed research work
  5. Technical reports (such as position papers, policy notes, technical presentations, meeting reports, aide memoires, terms of reference and the like)
  6. Attendance to at least 80% of capacity building activities
  7. Timely submission of monthly accomplishment report approved by the DOH management
  8. Other policy and research related technical tasks as may be required

Preferred Qualifications:

  1. Preferably Doctor of Medicine/ Master’s Degree in Economics/Epidemiology; fields of study must be on policy and research development, public health and/or any related area in the Social and Medical Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics
  2. Fluency in the English and Filipino languages; mastery in research and analytical writing
  3. At least 1-2 years relevant work experience, previous work experience in DOH is a plus factor
  4. Skills in planning, organizing and managing
  5. Knowledge and experience in research management
  6. Proficient computer skills, particularly for technical report-writing and presentation preparation

Duration:

Two years, non-renewable

Compensation:

Commensurate with qualifications

Expression of Interest:

Qualified applicants may file their application together with the following documents at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.:

  1. Cover letter addressed to:

KENNETH G. RONQUILLO, MD, MPHM, CESO III

Director IV

Health Policy Development and Planning Bureau

Department of Health

  1. Curriculum Vitae

Deadline of submission is on or before June 6, 2018.

For queries, contact Ms. Juanita R. Valeza at 651-7800 local 1326/1328 or Ms. Ian Hannah C. Gozun at (02) 837-7537 local 2117.


The Department of Agriculture and its partner government institutions in advancing biotechnology, namely:  Department of Science and Technology, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB), Department of Health (DOH) through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and with the partnership of the House of Representatives opened the “Bioteknolohiya: Pambansang Hamon, Pambansang Solusyon” exhibit on 21 May at the North Wing Lobby of the House of Representatives.

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) are present as well during the opening.

The 4-day exhibit features developed technologies, services, and information materials where legislators can further learn about the benefits of biotechnology, so they could help in passage of laws and policies that would assist the industry.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez enjoined legislators for continuous support in biotechnology through a message read by Iloilo 4th District Rep. Ferjenel Biron saying, “the goal is to act now for real progress to begin. Convergence and innovation is the key. Together, let's work hand in hand in furthering this breakthrough.”

“Biotechnology's benefits are meaningful, especially as the country's population is growing," he added while emphasizing that congress should work together and strengthen support for biotechnology.

The exhibit will be on display until 24 May as part of the kickoff activities of the 14th National Biotechnology Week on 20-24 November 2018 at the MetroTent Convention Center, Pasig City. Heading this year’s celebration is the Department of Science and Technology through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).The annual Biotechnology Week celebration will feature technology exhibits, seminars, and fora on biotechnology.