PCHRD Executive Director Jaime C. Montoya during the dialogue with the scholars

To address the pressing issues of its scholars under the Accelerated Science and Technology Human Resource Development Program (ASTHRDP), the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) organized a dialogue called a “Conference for Non-Complying Scholars” last November 08, 2011 at the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) Conference Room, Bicutan, Taguig City.



Based on past experiences, many scholars fail to meet all the requirements of their scholarship program. Status of scholars is either overdue, delinquent, withdrawn, terminated or in extension.



Ms. Imelda De Leon, Coordinator of the PCHRD-ASTHRDP re-oriented the scholars about the ASTHRDP’s objective, acceptable reasons for valid extension, requirements for extension and temporary lift of travel ban and grounds for termination of scholarship. Ms. De Leon explained that if a scholar fails to comply with the scholarship agreement, the scholar will be required to refund all allowances received.



Common problems of the scholars identified during the dialogue were on funding; data gathering because laboratory and experimental procedure/methodology take longer time and there is not enough time for thesis-making; concern with their advisers because of the many revisions in their thesis and the delay of returning their thesis approval; problems in academics, ethics clearance; and other personal concerns.


In response to the issues raised, PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya advised the scholars, “From the start, funding may not be enough. You can look for other sources of support, become a research assistant (RA) or seek funds from other agencies. You should also establish a good working relationship with your advisers to make your thesis work easier.”

Delegates of ASEAN Member States with Mr. Joshua Nealon of WHO-WPRO (1st from back row), DOST Secretary Mario Montejo and PCHRD Executive Director Jaime Montoya (3rd and 4th of front row).

In a consultative meeting last October 20, 2011 held at the Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati City, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries tackled the impact of climate change on vector-borne diseases.



Spearheaded by Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, National Focal Person for the Philippines of the ASEAN Sub Committee on Biotechnology (SCB), and the Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST), the meeting is the Philippines’ attempt towards finding a sustainable solution to the rising number of infectious diseases directly linked to the climate change phenomenon.



In his welcome remarks, delivered by Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, Dr. Graciano P. Yumul, Chair of the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology (ASEAN COST) and Undersecretary for R&D of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), emphasized that Climate Change and Health are two of the flagship programs of the ASEAN COST.



“We hope that your inputs to possible collaborative programs will promote cooperation within and among the member states to address the pressing issues of climate change and health in the region,” said Dr. Yumul.



The consultative meeting was a follow-through activity of the Roadmap on Climate Change, Regional Science and Technology Strategic Role, during the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in November 2009. The roadmap which was developed by the Philippines, the lead country for climate change in collaboration with Vietnam (co-lead country), identified as one of the priority concerns the development of a predictive technology that will forecast spatial and temporal relations of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases with climate change variations.



In his message, DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo cited the country’s current initiatives against dengue as examples in addressing impact of climate change on the emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases.



“We have developed, tested and rolled-out nationwide the Ovicidal Larvicidal (OL) mosquito trap, a low-cost yet effective device designed to reduce the population of the dengue-carrying mosquitoes. This will be complemented by a program called Dengue Early Warning System (DEWS) which includes the development of a Dengue Decision Support System (DDSS) that can be used to forecast dengue disease outbreaks. These are among the steps that the country is taking to mitigate the impact of climate change, particularly on the emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases,” said Secretary Montejo.



Mr. Joshua Nealon, Technical Officer for Malaria, Vector-Borne and other Parasitic Diseases Unit of the World Health Organization Western Pacific Regional Office (WHO-WPRO) gave a brief presentation on the possible impacts of climate change on health and vector-borne diseases.







“Climate change can have a great number of effects on vector-borne diseases. As the climate warms, the potential geographical range of vectors can increase. When there’s more rainfall, there are more breeding sites for vectors,” explained Mr. Nealon.



One of the highlights of the meeting was the presentation of country initiatives on climate change and health in the areas of policies and programs, research priorities, resources for research, identified research gaps and public health control measures.



An ASEAN collaborative R&D draft proposal entitled Impact of Climate Change on Infectious Diseases in the ASEAN Member States was presented by Ms. Alma Macahia, project leader from the De La Salle University (DLSU) Dasmariñas. The proposal has two components: 1. The Relationship of Climate Change and Geographical Features to the Occurrence of Dengue and Malaria in the ASEAN Member States; and 2. Interactions between Vector Ecosystem and Human Society to address the burden of Dengue and Malaria in the ASEAN Member States.


The participants gave their feedbacks and reactions to the draft R&D proposal and agreed on the following next steps: establishment of database of persons/ institutions/ funding agencies and current/ planned initiatives; collaborative projects with a minimum of three ASEAN countries working together; establishment of facilities for sharing information/ resources; and forging linkages with other existing networks or funding sources outside the ASEAN.

After thorough evaluation and review, the Scopus Content Selection and Advisory Board (CSAB) announced that Acta Medica Philippina is accepted for inclusion in Scopus, the world’s largest online abstract and citation database designed to increase researchers, librarians, productivity through its built-in functionalities that can be used to tract, analyze and visualize research.

Scopus is one of the respected science repositories, containing more than 45 million records or references from more than 18,000 peer-reviewed journals and trade publications all over the world.

The Scopus team commended Acta Medica Philippina for being a well-presented journal with credible editorial policy focusing on loco-regional content. “Acta Medica Philippina has a very good stand in terms of content and this should be supported,” the Scopus team said in an email to the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).

“Acta Medica Philippina should focus particularly on high quality standards of locally sourced and relevant papers,” added Scopus team.

Acta Medica Philippina is the national scientific journal published through the collaborative efforts of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) and College of Public Health of the University of the Philippines Manila (CPH-UPM).

Even while dengue cases in the country are decreasing, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) continues its fight against the dreadful disease. DOST held a training to capacitate its regional focal persons on the School-based Roll-out of the Ovicidal Larvicidal mosquito trap last 12 October 2011 at the Metrology Conference Hall, DOST Compound, Bicutan, Taguig City.

The training was facilitated by Dr. Lilian de las Llagas, entomologist and public health professor at the University of the Philippines Manila. Dr. de las Llagas discussed the scientific framework of the DOST-OL trap program, its concepts and applications to dengue vector control and surveillance in a classroom setting.

Dr. de las Llagas began the lecture by defining the nature of a vector. It is an arthropod (insect, mite, tick) that is capable of acquiring and supporting the development and transmission of a pathogenic agent (bacteria, viruses, parasites) from one host to another host. In the case of dengue transmission, Aedes mosquito species is known as the prime vector because it has the exact DNA or enzyme that supports the development of dengue virus inside its body.

“It is also important to understand the behavior of Aedes mosquito for the application of necessary control measures like the DOST OL mosquito trap. Only female mosquito bites,” said Dr. de las Llagas. “They suck blood from the victims from sunrise to sunset. This makes the OL mosquito trap significant in the school because most of the children, the most vulnerable dengue victims, are in the school during this span of time,” Dr. de las Llagas added.

Another characteristic of the female mosquito is that it can fly 50 meters to 300 meters (flight range) from its favorite containers to the areas where they could find blood meal. “Though mosquitoes are highly domesticated, a mosquito laying eggs in a nearby community might go around the schools to find its victim.”

Mosquitoes love to rest indoor, under furniture or in lower portions of walls where there are curtains and shoe racks. Dr. de las Llagas also noted that mosquitoes rest outdoors, under the leaves, plant pots, inside of wells, piles of woods, discarded tires, poultry houses, and other dark and shady areas. “These are the areas where we could strategically place our traps,” said Dr. de las Llagas.

“The DOST OL mosquito trap is a technology that is proven effective. But how we use it makes a big difference. That is why this training is very important,” stressed Dr. de las Llagas. She emphasized the role of the regional focal person as key advocacy partners of the program in the regions. “As trainers, understanding the basic concepts is crucial because you can’t train the teachers if you don’t have enough knowledge and understanding about the technology,” explained Dr. de las Llagas.

The School-based Roll-out of the OL trap Program aims to distribute the DOST OL mosquito trap to approximately 900,000 classrooms in pre-elementary, elementary and high schools nationwide. To date, DOST has already distributed a total of 34, 910 OL traps in the National Capital Region (NCR), 41,286 in Region I and 5,190 in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

The ASEAN Subcommittee on Biotechnology – Philippines is holding a consultative meeting of the ASEAN member countries for the proposal development on impact of climate change on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases on October 20, 2011 at the Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati City.



The meeting aims to discuss the challenges to climate and ecosystem change, share information on ongoing program/projects, researches and initiatives, and identify a priority area for joint research collaboration that will address the ASEAN region’s need to study the impact of climate on vector-borne disease outbreaks.



A collaborative research proposal is expected to be developed addressing the ASEAN region’s need to study the impact of climate change on vector-borne disease outbreaks through the use of modern day predictive technologies and to find a long-term regional solution to the climate change problem.



Expected participants are the delegates from the ASEAN Member States, namely: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.



This initiative is spearheaded by Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, National Focal Person for the Philippines of the ASEAN Sub Committee on Biotechnology, and the Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST).


Funding for the whole day activity will come from the International Commitment Fund (ICF) administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).