Amidst the threat of typhoons, hot temperature, and earthquakes in the Philippines,Region 1 residents showed “high” extent of adaptive practices against climate change effects, according to the study of University of Northern Philippines (UNP). The study was funded by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).

Though climate change has steered intense debate, human activities are still pointed as its main cause. Climate change, however, poses risks not just on individuals’ health but also on the environment and agriculture. Storms, droughts, and extreme temperature continue to intensify, especially in tropical regions, which lead to challenges in agricultural production and prevalence of health risks.

The study found different practices of Region 1 residents to adapt on the continuing effects of climate change. To beat the extremely hot temperature, most of them drink more water to prevent dehydration. Their immediate concern on dehydration is influenced by their occupation of farming and fishing, where they toil under the heat of the sun.

Since extreme hot temperature is caused by gases produced from burning fossil fuels for electricity, residents switch off their appliances at home when not in use. Researchers explained that residents also wanted to avoid paying high electric consumption.

In case of drought, agricultural productivity in the region decreases, resulting to food shortage. Thus, residents plant vegetables in their backyards for alternative source of food.

The “high” extent of adaptive practices among residents of Region 1 is associated with their “very high” level of knowledge on the climate change effects along their health, environment and agriculture. Therefore, researchers recommended to increase awareness of communities on climate change effects and possible adaptive practices to fight these adverse effects.

As part of raising awareness on climate change, the Department of Health (DOH) declares November 19-25, 2013 as climate change consciousness week.


As birth defects become one of the top ten (10) causes of infant mortality in the Philippines, the University of the Philippines Manila – National Institutes of Health (UPM - NIH) and the Department of Health (DOH) began establishing the Birth Defects Surveillance (BDS) Program in 2008, according to a study presented by Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-de la Paz at the 6th International Conference on Birth Defects and Disabilities in the Developing World (ICBD).

The Birth Defects Surveillance (BDS) serves as a pilot project to implement surveillance program for newborns with birth defects in all participating sites, provide mortality statistics in assisting on national policy and program planning, identify risk factors for common birth defects, and make recommendations for adoption of the BDS on a nationwide scale.

To establish the BDS program, researchers formed BDS core group, composed of clinical geneticists, neonatologists and representatives from the DOH. They conducted orientation and monitoring of the project, and grouped together the hospitals and communities by sentinel sites to cover only livebirths (newborns who breathe or exhibit any sign of life even for a few seconds) in health facilities and home deliveries. Researchers were able to coordinate 82 health facilities and communities from 18 sentinel sites and participate for birth defects surveillance in regions such as NCR, Ilocos Region, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Western Visayas, and Central Visayas, among others.

Researchers, however, faced challenges in establishing the BDS program, particularly lack of policy, infrastructure, and sustainability of the program. 

“But despite all these challenges, we are hopeful that we will be able to work a systematic, cohesive and sustainable surveillance in the next few years through research, education and training,” as Dr. Cutiongco-de la Paz affirmed.

The study entitled, “Establishment of the Philippine Birth Defects Surveillance”, is published online at

Call for Applications for the ASEAN-U.S. Science and Technology (S&T)

Fellows Pilot Program

In support of the efforts to strengthen capacity for science-based policy-making, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development – Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCHRD) will be hosting one Fellow under the ASEAN-US Science and Technology (S&T) Fellows Pilot Program.

This Program will provide the opportunity especially for early-career scientists who are citizens and residents of any of the ASEAN Member States (AMS) to learn about policymaking while contributing their knowledge and analytical skills to their national governments in support of ASEAN S&T priorities.

 Minimum requirements to apply include:

  •     PhD Degree
  •     At least three (3) years of post-degree professional experience
  •     Age of less than 45 years of age as of January 6, 2014


Fellows can apply to work on one of the following areas: health, climate change, food security, early warning systems for disaster risk reduction, water management, and biodiversity. The Fellowship will run for one year and DOST-PCHRD will host the Fellow for Health.

Please click here to download the application/information package.

Senator Pia Cayetano at 6th International Birth Defects and Disabilities in the Developing World

Notwithstanding a super typhoon, Senator Pilar Juliana “Pia” Cayetano shared her cause for children with birth defects and disabilities to Filipinos and foreign delegates at the recently held International Conference on Birth Defects and Disabilities (ICBD) last November 11, 2013 at Mactan, Cebu.  

Sen. Pia’s own experience as a mother led her to advocate the rights of children with rare diseases. She gave birth to a child with trisomy-13, a type of chromosomal disorder. He had a cleft lip, tumors in his liver, and enlarged kidneys, causing him to live for nine months only. Though it was heartbreaking, Sen. Pia became emotionally prepared after undergoing genetic counselling before giving birth.

“How many women are unable to have emotional preparedness because we deprived them of this preparedness?“ She emphasized.

Motivated by her own experience, Sen. Pia currently works on passing a law concerning birth defects and disabilities, together with health professionals, particularly Dr. Carmencita Padilla, the Director of Newborn Screening Reference Center - National Institutes of Health. She also encouraged Filipinos and even foreigners to share their cause with lawmakers for better progress in this important health issue.

Sen. Pia has a foundation named “Gabriel Symphony” that supports children with manifestations of Trisomy-13. The foundation conducts cleft operations and projects for visually impaired children and those with hearing loss.

As a senator, she served as Chairperson of the Committee on Health and Demography and Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations in 2010. She also worked for the passage of landmark laws: Reproductive Health Act (RA 10354), to provide women and families with access to information and services on reproductive health, and the National Health Insurance Act of 2013 (RA 10606), inclusion of the lowest income segments of the population in the PhilHealth system.  Her other legislative accomplishments included Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act (RA 10152), Establishment of Persons with Disability Affairs Office Act (RA 10070), and Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act (RA 9502).

Calling for application for training fellowship to BIOTEC - Thailand. The training is open to participants coming from all ASEAN countries. Deadline of application is on 15 December 2013. Please visit for more info.