For many, drinking coffee is a morning routine to start off a long working day. However, when heavy coffee drinkers start experiencing ailments related to their coffee intake, they resort to having coffee substitutes.

Coffee substitutes are coffee-like brews made with the parts of roasted plants such as corn, ampalaya and soy.

In a study by the Institute of Human Nutrition and Food, College of Human Ecology, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), researchers found out that sweet sorghum coffee [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] substitute could be a potential healthier alternative, and was found to be nutritious as it contains beneficial phytochemicals, such as phenols particularly flavonoids, which contribute to its high antioxidant activity.

According to the study whole sweet sorghum grain was processed in making the coffee substitute powder which acquired a dark brown color, and the aroma and flavor resembling “rice coffee,” and a coffee-like bitterness. The raw sorghum grain was analyzed for proximate content, total phenolic and flavonoid, and tannin contents, as well as total antioxidant activity and fatty acid profile.

Findings of this study suggest that the consumption of sweet sorghum coffee may help in preventing neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and chronic diseases such as cancer, cardio vascular diseases, cataract, and inflammation.

Researchers also added that the known coffee health benefits and growing popularity of sweet sorghum coffee, the potential industry of producing coffee substitute from sweet sorghum grain may increase the crop’s utilization in the country.

A full copy of the study entitled “Acceptability, nutritional, and potential health values of sweet sorghum coffee substitute” may be viewed at

Doctors are often stereotyped for their bad handwriting. According to a study, this illegibility of doctors’ handwriting in medical prescriptions is often the cause of medication errors.

Proper writing of prescriptions involves a strict format which includes superscription, inscription, subscription, and transcription, the researchers of the study explained. Superscription refers to the date of prescriptions, Rx symbol, and details of patients, inscription to the name and amount of medicine, subscription to instructions to pharmacists, while transcription to other notes and directions for use.

However, a study published by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) found out that 28% of Filipino patients considered their doctors’ handwriting in prescriptions unreadable which led to adverse medical consequences such as administration of improper dosage of medicine, and even death.

To evaluate the readability of the penmanship of doctors and identify their most common misinterpreted words, researchers from the University of the Philippines Diliman randomly selected 45 licensed doctors with different specializations from Quezon City hospitals to write prescriptions. Groups of 80 assessors consisting of pharmacists, young adults (20-34 years old), middle-aged adults (35-49 years old), and senior citizens (50 years old and up) were given these prescriptions to assess.

The results showed that doctors have similar handwriting regardless of their specializations wherein abbreviations in the prescriptions contribute to most of the errors. Pharmacists are most likely to interpret prescriptions correctly among the assessing groups in the study.

The researchers explained that majority of the poor handwriting of doctors is attributed to the times when doctors are in a rush when writing prescriptions, during their rounds or peak hours, or when they experienced fatigue.

Common medication errors cover the writing of prescription, transcribing these prescriptions, and administering the medications…majority is attributed to the writing [which] …is rooted mainly to the illegible handwriting of the doctors,” the researchers explained. Medication error is any preventable event that may pose harm to the patients.

To prevent medication errors due to poor handwriting of doctors, the researchers suggested developing a program on writing prescriptions that can be easily understood by everyone. They also pointed out that abbreviations in prescriptions should be avoided as they lead to more confusion. Lastly, the researchers advised adapting a computerized prescription system if possible.  

The study “Assessment of the legibility of the handwriting in medical prescriptions of doctors from public and private hospitals in Quezon City, Philippines” is available at Science Direct and can be accessed at ■

Employees who are fond of working overtime (OT) or those with work hours longer than usual are more likely to have strokes, according to a review recently published in The Lancet journal.

Stroke is due to interruption of blood supply in the brain. According to the World Health Organization, adverse effects of stroke depend on the affected brain area, and severe cases could lead to death.

To determine whether long working hours could lead to stroke, researches from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London conducted a meta-analysis of published and unpublished data covering 603,838 individuals in Europe, USA, and Australia. Meta-analysis is a statistical technique which combines findings from independent studies to generate precise conclusions.

The result of the study states that employees who have longer working hours, 55 hours or more per week, have higher risk for stroke compared to those with standard working hours of 35-40 hours per week.

The researchers stated that the basis for the result is uncertain; but physical inactivity and repetitive triggering of stress can be important causes of stroke in these workers. They also added that heavy alcohol consumption is also a risk factor as employees working long hours seem to be slightly more prone to risky drinking.

Evidence [also] suggests that individuals who work long hours are more likely to ignore symptoms of disease and have greater prehospital delays… than those who work standard hours,” the researchers added.

This study provided the strongest indication of the causal association between working hours and stroke, pointed out Dr. Urban Janlert of the Umeå University Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine in an article also published in The Lancet.

Dr. Janlert emphasized the importance of good working conditions to people’s health. He explained that some of these circumstances such as climate conditions are difficult to change, but the length of a working day is a choice.

Essentially, if long working hours present a danger to health, it should be possible to change them…the increase in risk is substantial. Long working hours are not a negligible occurrence,” Dr. Janlert emphasized.

Since the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES) pointed out in 2013 that most employed Filipinos (24.2 million out of 37.7 million employed) work longer than the 40 hours per week required, it should be valuable to consider that stroke might be a Filipino employee’s worst enemy.

The review entitled “Long working hours and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished data for 603,838 individuals” can be accessed at ■

Renowned Filipino architect and urban planner Felino Palafox urges policymakers to push for walkable and bike-friendly streets to solve traffic congestion in the major cities of the country. The vision of architect Palafox which he shared in his talk at the Global Forum on Research and Innovation for Health 2015, is a transport system that would motivate people to travel on foot, thereby curbing the use of private cars that is becoming the primary cause of traffic congestion.


According to architect Palafox, cities that promote active mobility like walking and cycling may advocate healthy lifestyle, generate economic growth, and build a pleasant community.


The American Heart Association lists physical inactivity as the fourth major risk factor associated with chronic diseases. If they had safe sidewalks and intersections in the cities, people would tend to engage in real physical activity which would help prevent diseases such as obesity and cardiovascular ailments.


Pedestrian friendly and appropriate infrastructure would attract people to access conveniently located shops, businesses, and restaurants. More than that, it would create jobs in the bicycle businesses and promote tourism.


Promoting walking and biking would have good environmental benefits to people in the community. This active mobility may decrease harmful carbon emissions and reduce the rate of injuries and fatalities from motor vehicles.


A city that incorporates biking and walking with other forms of public transportation would provide the right motivation for its citizens to leave their cars and their sedentary lifestyles behind.


The Philippines loses billions of pesos every day from lost productivity due to traffic congestion. In Metro Manila alone, a recent report noted three billion pesos of losses per day because of traffic inefficiency.


Providing safe and appropriate road design in the cities may improve human health, increase commercial profits, and develop a more enjoyable environment.


To fully push for a walkable and bike-friendly cities, Architect Palafox encouraged law makers to enact policies to bring this vision to fruition. To design and plan is a solution, but the key is to engage political solutions to make this a reality, he noted. 

The Department of Science and Technology, (DOST) through its three Sectoral Councils, is hosting the first Balik Scientist Program (BSP) Convention on 27 November 2015 at the Hotel Intercontinental Manila in Makati.

Anchored on the theme “From Global to Local: Sharing Expertise to Accelerate Development through Science, Technology and Innovation,” the event aims to highlight the scientific, agro-industrial, and economic development, and to strengthen technological human resources of academic, public, and private institutions in the country.

With over 200 expected participants from among the nation’s researchers, academicians, and BSP awardees, the event features scientific presentations, parallel sessions and panel discussions that cater to the priority areas of the DOST to create opportunities for building a stronger scientific community.

The BSP Convention will be jointly managed by the Office of the Undersecretary for Research and Development with the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), and Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD).

The BSP is an initiative of the DOST launched in 1975, which encourages highly-trained overseas Filipino scientists and technologists, experts, and professionals to return to the Philippines and share their expertise for the acceleration of the scientific, agro-industrial and economic development of the country.

For more information about the convention, please contact Ms. Belen Balbuena at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Mr.Renz So at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or you may call +63 2 837 75 37.