DOST-PCHRD regional partners narrate health research in the past 40 years

Health research is growing, and it is growing in the right direction.”

In a dialogue about the past, present, and future of health research capacity in the Philippines, Dr. Lyre Anni Murao, Program Director of the Philippine Genome Center Mindanao imparts the stories and experiences of the region in its health research undertaking with the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) among its partners during the second day of PCHRD’s 40th anniversary celebration on 18 March 2022. 

The session entitled, “Today and Beyond: Strengthening Country’s Capacity in Research” aims to gather some of the Council’s staunch partners representing Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao to converse about their region’s achievements, current initiatives, and plans to bolster the country’s capacity, including the infrastructure, systemic relationships, scholarships, and ethics in health research.

Dr. Julius Capili, Director of Cagayan Valley Health Research and Development Consortium expressed how the research undertaking in Luzon has improved in the past decades, from being regarded as “just satisfactory” to now having a clear-cut research direction through the establishment of a health research agenda, and appreciating the dynamism of the consortium. 

In the past decades, people would regard that research is just for intellectuals. Now, we have grown in as much as providing for and enabling appreciation of the research culture in the region,” Dr. Capili added.

For Visayas, Dr. Edgardo Tulin, President and University Professor at the Visayas State University highlights, “Health research was not as aggressive but that was a good start for the people in the region.” Dr. Tulin recalled that many research initiatives in the region from the past were only focused on antibacterial and anti-microbial properties coming from natural products and indigenous plants, as well as animal research and agriculture-related R&D. He emphasized that the establishment of the Consortium in 1982 is a “very good strategy” for the region as it paved the way for many researchers in the region to be funded by the consortium. 

In addition to Dr. Murao’s statement about the growing research capacity in Mindanao, she added that there has been an increased number of proposal submissions, an increased Regional Research Fund, and the existence of big-ticket programs in different institutions in the region.

There is now a healthy and broad research ecosystem in Mindanao because of multisectoral collaborations in partnership with the local government units, NGOs, and private groups. The presence of different facilities such as the PGC Mindanao and Niche Centers in the Regions (NICER) also contributes to our efforts to strengthen regional capacity. Davao is also proud to be one of the regions that piloted the regional ethics board,” Dr. Murao added.

The session is part of the PCHRD’s three-day virtual celebration held last 16-18 March 2022 via Zoom and Facebook live streaming. With the theme, “PCHRD @ 40 and Beyond: Transforming Lives through Health Research and Development,” the event provides a platform for participants from the academe, policymakers, private sector, and civil society representatives to converse on advancing the landscape of the country’s health research in the next decade.

The session moderator is Dr. Unity Cortez, Chief of Medical Professional Services of the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center.

A replay of the session is available through this link. Interested participants may also register to the Council’s year-long celebration through 40.pchrd.dost.events.

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