The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development – Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) and Department of Health (DOH) will hold an eHealth Forum on 26 July 2014 at the SMXConvention Center, PasayCity during the 2014 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW).

With its theme, “The Health Information Exchange, Connecting People and Information for Better Health Care,” the forum tackles the local and global perspectives on health information exchange, and recognizes eHealth initiatives to track the country’s target on maternal and child health with reference to the Millennium Development Goals as well as improvement in community access to PhilHealth benefits.

The Philippine Health Information Exchange (PHIE) is an enabling system that links health-related information, databases and registries with all health services, users, and providers.  PHIE provides access to health information by health practitioners and policymakers in making informed decisions.

The forum also features the first Digital Poster Exhibit on eHealth researches and initiatives in the Philippines.

Secretary Mario G. Montejo (DOST), Secretary Enrique T. Ona (DOH), and Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa (DOH) together with 500 participants from different sectors are expected to grace the forum. For more details, please contact Ms. Michelle Estrera at (02) 837-7534.

With the vision of advancing together as one community, delegates from the ASEAN member states convened on June 26 – 27, 2014 for the 1st  ASEAN – Network for Drugs, Diagnostics, Vaccines, and Traditional Medicine Innovation (ASEAN-NDI) Community of Practice on Traditional Medicine Meeting at Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati City, Philippines.

Presenting the ASEAN-NDI initiatives, Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, the ASEAN-NDI Secretariat Coordinator, emphasized the need to develop collaborative innovations on traditional medicine in addressing the escalating cost and poor access to modern medicine, which were prevalent in some ASEAN countries.

"There is also a constraint on the lack of research on varieties of traditional medicine [though] the government gives a lot of support for traditional medicine," added by Dr. Habibah A. Wahab, the Director General of Malaysian Institute of Pharmaceuticals and Nutraceuticals.

Supporting collaborative initiatives on traditional medicine, ASEAN-NDI representatives affirmed their interests on potential areas for collaborations, particularly on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), capacity-building for researchers and students, harmonization of policies and regulations, and research and development (R&D) projects.

Nine (9) delegates from the ASEAN Member States (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines,  Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam), and some participants from the Department of Health, and Department of Science and Technology graced this remarkable meeting. 

 

Birthing clinics and health facilities, including those donated by Zuellig Family Foundation, are found to give benefits such as accessibility, early referral of high-risk cases, and better monitoring of diseases in rural communities, according to Professor Ma. Angeles G. Lapeńa and her team of researchers from De La Salle University.

The Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF), rooted from the Zuellig family’s enterprises in the Philippines, partnered with various rural municipalities in effort to improve leadership and governance in health systems, known as Community Health Partnership Program (CHPP). Under the CHPP, each municipality receives two infrastructure grants to construct birthing facilities in their respective districts.

Investigating the impact of the 52 donated birthing clinics, researchers surveyed health workers and households in selected municipalities in Romblon, Sibuyan Island, Mindoro and Maguindanao.

Findings revealed that the accessibility of the birthing clinics resulted to increased number of prenatal check-ups and deliveries after its construction, as presented by Professor Lapeńa during the 35th anniversary of Social Development Research Center.

Since these clinics also served as permanent offices of community health workers, patients with high-risk cases were earlier referred to other health providers with advanced health facilities. According to health workers, better monitoring of diseases even in the remotest areas was possible because of the accessibility of the clinics.   

While more birthing clinics bring various benefits to communities, local government units’ programs and policies are still crucial in maintaining and enhancing these clinics to ensure not just accessibility but also high quality of health services to communities, according to Professor Lapeńa.

Representing the Philippines, Dr. Isidro C. Sia, the Director of Institute of Herbal Medicine, identified some of the country’s challenges on traditional medicine such as the continuing loss of knowledge on traditional medicine, the need to strengthen its research agenda, and limitation of its funding, during the 1st ASEAN – Network for Drugs, Diagnostics, Vaccines, and Traditional Medicine Innovation (ASEAN-NDI) Community of Practice on Traditional Medicine Meeting 2014 in Manila.

Among these challenges was the continuing loss of knowledge on traditional medicine as more mainstream people culturally encroached on communities of indigenous people, according to Dr. Sia.

The need to strengthen the research agenda and the limitation of funding for traditional medicine were also being faced by researchers and institutions in this particular field of interest.

Yet, current government efforts such as the enactment of the Philippine National Health Research System Act of 2013 (An Act institutionalizing the Philippine National Health Research System) and funding from public offices seek to address these limitations.

ASEAN-NDI [also] provides the platform to develop collaborative programs and projects to advance Traditional Medicine in the region,” as assured by Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, ASEAN-NDI Secretariat Coordinator and the Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development. 

Doctors abroad now use software developed by a Davao doctor meant to replace handwritten prescriptions. Despite its success abroad, software developer finds difficulty penetrating local physicians.

Primarily aimed to help his fellow Filipino doctors in eliminating the risks that come with illegible handwritten medical documents, Dr. Richard T. Mata, a member of Philippine Pediatrics Society, developed the Easy Clinic Software, a free and customizable software that enable the efficient and fast processing of medical information by producing accurate and readable digital prescriptions.

In his presentation during the First Regional Forum on eHealth, held in Davao City on 28 March 2014, Dr. Mata reported that the software is now used by doctors, mainly from India and the USA. In the past eight months, around 14,748 doctors worldwide downloaded the software; India - 5,438, United States - 1,474, and Philippines - 1,205.

The Easy Clinic Software offers revolutionary benefits to replace the age-old practice of handwriting admitting orders and drug prescriptions. The software can be synchronized with the patient’s database allowing the doctor to include patient’s information on the prescription such as the name, age, sex, address and even a photo. (RICHMOND Q. ACOSTA)