500+ Filipino health researchers convene for the 16th PNHRS Week, highlights health R&D’s role in sustainable development

Over five hundred Filipino health researchers from across the 17 regions of the Philippines came together for the 16th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week celebration, held on 8-11 August 2023 at Summit Hotel in Tacloban City.

Themed “Sustainable Development: Resilience through Health Research,” the event underscored the contribution of health research and innovation in propelling sustainable development, particularly in the post-COVID-19 landscape. 

Hosted by the Eastern Visayas Health Research and Development Consortium (EVHRDC), in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), the week-long celebration comprised a series of plenary sessions, committee meetings, health research competitions, a press conference, and a research poster exhibit.


Pre-conference highlights

The event commenced with the pre-conference sessions laying the foundation for the week-long collaboration and health research discussion. A series of committee meetings served as a platform for PNHRS Technical Working Committees (TWCs) to convene, where committee members deliberated on accomplishments, frameworks, tasks, and future trajectories, aligning their efforts to contribute significantly to the advancement of health research in the country.

One of the event’s key highlights was the Talakayang HeaRT Beat press conference which shed light on the intricacies of the PNHRS and the EVHRDC. Media participants and attendees were treated to insights about the consortium’s featured projects and initiatives, ensuring that the most current and authentic information reached the public.

In line with the spirit of the PNHRS Week, competitions and forums emerged as vibrant platforms for fostering innovation and knowledge exchange in health research and development.

In the Research Poster Contest, Mr. Prince Eroll V. Reyes of the Northern Mindanao Consortium in Health Research and Development (NorMinCoHRD) secured both the first prize and the People’s Choice Award in the Student Category. In the Professional Category of the same contest, Mr. Jibe Labenz L. Nebato and Mr. Khent Ivan M. Duerme, also from NorMinCoHRD, clinched the first prize and People’s Choice Award, respectively.

Meanwhile, Mr. Emerson Paul D. Somontan and Dr. Virginia S. Ariza, representing NorMinCoHRD and EVHRDC, respectively, emerged as the winners in the Oral Research Paper Presentation category, with Mr. Somontan taking the top spot in the Student Category, and Dr. Ariza leading the Professional Category.

In the 3-Minute Pitch to Policymakers Competition, Mr. Halid Tamano of the Zamboanga Consortium for Health Research and Development (ZCHRD) was awarded the first prize, while Dr. Krista Muralla of the Bicol Consortium for Health Research and Development (BCHRD) earned the People’s Choice Award. All finalists and winners received checks and certificates in recognition of their outstanding policy pitches.


Main conference sessions

The main conference on August 10 commenced with the opening ceremony and the PNHRS Recognition Ceremony followed by two plenary sessions, featuring esteemed experts in the field who engaged the audience in comprehensive discussions. 

House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez in his keynote speech delivered by Atty. Mark Stephen Reyes highlighted the essential contribution of research in the post-pandemic recovery and discussed legislative initiatives in the House aimed at improving the health of the Filipino population.

The first plenary session entitled, “Strategic Health Research Directions for Sustainable Development” explored the crucial role of effective government leadership in establishing strategic frameworks to leverage health research for the betterment of human health and society. Dr. Maria Lourdes Otayza, Medical Center Chief of Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center discussed the concepts. processes. and principles in setting research priority agenda in the development of the National Unified Health Research Agenda or NUHRA 2023-2028 , including the 

I would like to emphasize the importance of updating the health research agenda, which is essential for staying abreast of emerging health challenges, enhancing healthcare outcomes, promoting evidence-based practices, fostering innovation, ensuring resource allocation, and engaging stakeholders,” Dr. Otayza emphasized. Following this presentation, Mr. Pio Justin Asuncion, Chief Health Program Officer at the Department of Health (DOH), discussed the core processes being implemented in the DOH as well as future initiatives and directions of the department in the health research aspect.

In a special session, Dr. Vicente Y. Belizario, Jr. and Dr. Carlos Primero D. Gundran from the University of the Philippines Manila emphasized the interrelationship between health and the environment. Under the theme “Building Resilience at the Nexus of Health and Environment,” the discussions centered around neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), disasters, and their heightened impact due to swift environmental transformations. 

To foster camaraderie and celebrate cultural diversity, the day culminated in a Fellowship Night, highlighted by a Cultural Fashion Show that showcased each regional cluster’s cultural heritage.

The final day of the main conference featured a plenary session entitled, “Developing Sustainable Solutions through Research and Innovation for Health” where Dr. Dennis Batangan, Research Associate and Program Director Institute of Philippine Culture, Ateneo De Manila University Philippines highlighted the importance of bridging governance, access,  and technology issues in health. This was followed by the discussion of Dr. Filedito Tandinco, Dean of the UP Manila- School of Health Sciences on the public-private partnership towards sustainable development.

The third presenter in the session is DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development, Dr. Leah Buendia focusing on international cooperation in health research. “I would like to encourage everyone to make sure that health research is vibrant in the Philippines, partnership with others is not a crime, we just need to have safety nets when it comes to partnerships,” Usec Buendia said.

The celebration wrapped up with a closing ceremony, during which the announcement was made that the 17th PNHRS Week Celebration in August 2024 would be hosted by the Caraga Health Research and Development Consortium (CHRDC).

Following the formal proceedings, the Cultural Visits Committee, in partnership with the Department of Tourism – Region VIII, orchestrated a City Tour, providing attendees with the opportunity to discover the iconic landmarks and popular tourist destinations of Eastern Visayas.

The 16th PNHRS Week was a testament to the commitment of Filipino health researchers to advancing healthcare and sustainable development through research and innovation. As the torch passes to the Caraga Health Research and Development Consortium for next year’s event, the future of health research in the Philippines looks promising, with innovation and resilience at its core,” says Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, PCHRD Executive Director and PNHRS Lead Coordinator.

A replay of the 16th PNHRS Week celebration may be found at the DOST-PCHRD Facebook page.

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