Contrary to the growing worry about the African Swine Fever (ASF), the virus spreading among pigs is harmless to human health.

What is the African Swine Fever?

The virus was first detected in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 1920s, although the first outbreak was recorded in Portugal in 1957. Despite years of research for cure, there is still no official vaccine yet proven to eradicate the virus.

ASF is defined as a transboundary animal disease caused by a double-stranded DNA virus which leads to a fatal hemorrhagic fever to the affected animal. Symptoms of the infection include appetite loss, redness of the skin, vomiting and diarrhea. Controlling and preventing the infection is highly prioritized as the transmission is quick, but the disease is hard to detect, and it may take days before the symptoms show.

The spread of the ASF jumped from Africa to Europe through the exportation of contaminated meat. Through the years, the virus rapidly spread throughout countries in Europe, Africa, America and Asia. Just recently, the virus has entered the boundaries of China – which led to the cull of more than a million pigs up to date. As China is the biggest producer of pork, this is projected to greatly impact the market and the economy, with a decrease in supply and an increase in prices of pork meat.

Although the virus is harmless to human health, it is relevant to heighten security measures to prevent the virus from spreading – in line with the high transmission rate, the lack of cure, and the ability of the virus to withstand extreme conditions. It has also been noted that the virus can survive even in processed meat such as corned pork, bacon and maling.

What can be done to prevent ASF from spreading?

So far, the virus has not yet entered the Philippines, and security measures are tightened to prevent it from entering the country’s boundaries.

Aside from ensuring that infected animals and meat will not enter our market, it is important to practice preventive measures such as ensuring proper hygiene for the animals, providing clean feed, constant monitoring for signs of infection and a tighter security against illegal importation of meat.

In line with this, the Department of Agriculture (DA) implemented a temporary ban on the importation of pork and pork products from 16 ASF affected countries which includes Hungary, Poland, Vietnam and China. DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol also assured that aside from the ban, the department will carry out tighter securities to ensure that the country will remain ASF-free. Part of this effort is to station meat-sniffing dogs in international airports and the implementation of a stricter inspection by the Bureau of Customs for the belongings of incoming passengers from ASF-affected countries.

References:

  • https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2019-eliminating-african-swine-fever/
  • http://www.oie.int/en/animal-health-in-the-world/animal-diseases/african-swine-fever/
  • https://www.sanidadanimal.info/en/104-emerging-diseases/379-african-swine-fever
  • https://www.wur.nl/en/article/African-swine-fever-in-Europe.htm
  • https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1068760
  • https://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/13911-african-swine-fever-disrupts-world-protein-picture
  • https://www.rappler.com/nation/220019-philippines-ban-pork-from-8-countries-african-swine-fever

 



The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCHRD) funds a research which aims to develop a diagnostic kit for the detection of drug resistant Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Once made available in the market, this breakthrough technology will create a positive impact on the lives of people living with HIV not only in the Philippines but around the world.

“Having a test kit that will detect the resistance of HIV to drugs at the start of medical care allows doctors to decide on the best treatment options for their patients,” explained Dr. Edsel Salvaña, Project Leader from the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health (UPNIH) in the recent installment of the Talakayang HeaRTBeat series organized by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on 21 May 2019 at the Luxent Hotel, Quezon City.

As explained by Dr. Salvaña, the problem with HIV is it can become resistant to medication even at the start of treatment. This means some drugs may not work on the patient. Knowing the resistance of HIV to drugs is very crucial especially for our country where there is only a limited number of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) available.

Another challenge in the process of HIV diagnosis is the availability of only two organizations in the country that can test for the virus – namely the UPNIH and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) – it takes a long time to get the results, and the cost of the test itself is quite expensive.

The research project of Dr. Salvaña focuses on the use of an automated DNA sequencing tool that can potentially help diagnose HIV resistant cases faster and at a lower cost. The ultimate goal is to produce a kit that is accessible, affordable, and world-class possibly by 2023.  “There is no cure yet (for HIV). Kung masyadong mahal (yung tools), edi ibababa natin yung cost para we can also take care of the Filipino patients,” he stressed.

As of the latest, 42 HIV cases were said to be reported daily in the Philippines, which is higher than the data recorded in the same period last year.

References:

  • https://news.mb.com.ph/2019/03/09/doh-reports-1200-new-cases-of-hiv-in-january/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5439027/

To enhance the health research capabilities in the country to meet the present and future scientific requirements of health development, Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) partnered with Fondazione Italiana Fegato (FIF) to develop fellows in hepatology research.

The Clinical Research Fellowship program offers an opportunity to conduct research with mentorship from FIF. The program is strongly committed to provide fellows with the necessary skills to become outstanding clinicians, educators, and researchers in the field of hepatology.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

Applicants must:
• Be a graduate of Philippine Society of Gastroenterology (PSG)-accredited training institution
• Be a Filipino citizen;
• Be in good health condition;
• Not be older than 45 years old
• Have a proposed research intended to contribute to raising the standards in research and Philippine’s overall international scientific appraisal
• Have an exceptionally outstanding record of research achievements
• Be equipped with skills and expertise in implementing programmatic research
• Have expertise in epidemiology, outcomes research, or other qualitative and quantitative research methodologies and patient-oriented clinical outcomes research, community –engaged research, population-based studies and basic science research
• Passed the interview and other screening procedures;
• Be willing to render the required service obligation equivalent to the length of time the scholar enjoyed the fellowship; two years of service for every year of fellowship or a fraction thereof; and
• Not avail or enjoy any other fellowship grant

AWARD BENEFITS

Selected fellow will receive the following:

• One-time round trip economy fare to and from Trieste, Italy;
• Pre-travel expenses;
• Living allowance;
• Travel and health insurance; and
• Research grant in the amount of php100,000 for other expenses needed locally for the completion of the research fellowship (if applicable)

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS

A. Research Proposal Description (maximum of 800 words)

The description should include an innovative idea and explain how the project will be collaborative in nature.

Criteria:
o Consistency and importance of research theme
o Quality and originality of scientific work
o Unique contributions of the candidate to collaborative (team science) research projects
o Productivity
o Independence
o Impact and stature in the field
o Evidence of contribution to education (e.g. teaching awards, evaluations, etc.)

B. Curriculum Vitae (maximum of 2 pages)

C. Track Record

• Publications in major international peer-reviewed multi-disciplinary scientific journals and/or in leading international peer-reviewed journals, peer-reviewed conferences proceedings, and/or monographs of their respective research fields (if applicable)
• Publications: original investigations of high quality with additional consideration for reviews, books, chapters or clinical observations
• Presentations to peer reviewed, national, and internationally established conferences and/or international advanced schools (if applicable)
• Prizes/Awards/memberships (if applicable)

D. Re-entry Action Plan

The re-entry action plan must follow the outline below.
I. Introduction (current situation, challenges, opportunities, gaps)
II. Objectives
III. Output (6Ps: Publication, Patent, Product, People Services, Places and Partnerships, and Policy (see attached output guide))
IV. Outcome (Social and Economic Impact)
V. Success indicators
VI. Beneficiary

E. Documentary Requirements

• Accomplished application form
• Endorsement Letters (3)
• PSA Birth Certificate
• Valid NBI Clearance
• Certificate of Employment (if employed, recommendation and permission to take a leave of absence from employer or head of agency while on scholarship/fellowship)
• Medical Certificate as to health status from a licensed physician with his/her PRC license number indicated
• Transcript of Records (certified true copy)
• Budgetary Requirements (with supporting document for basis of rates used)

DEADLINE

Submit expression of interest (application form) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. until June 7, 2019.
Download application form HERE. 

Overview

The Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), the University of Trieste (UNITS) and Fondazione Italiana Fegato (FIF) hereby commit to enter into an Agreement for the development of a Fellowship program focused on molecular hepatology within the PhD Program in Molecular Biomedicine of UNITS. This Fellowship program integrates basic research and clinics focusing on the study of molecular approaches to cancer biology, genetics, jaundice and metabolic diseases. The duration of the program is for 3 years.

 Applicant’s research interests must be aligned with the National Unified Health Research Agenda (NUHRA) and National Harmonized Research and Development Agenda.

 Objectives

 The PhD program aims to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Develop a pool of high-quality human resources in molecular hepatology in particular who will contribute to the country’s global competitiveness and economic development;
  2. Provide opportunities to deserving students to study and obtain PhD degrees in Molecular Biomedicine in reputable institutions abroad;
  3. Contribute to the country’s health research and technological innovation capabilities through training on biomedical research;
  4. Create the basis for a Filipino Liver Network integrating basic and clinical research in liaison with FIF.

 Capacity

 Two positions of PhD students will be available each year.

 Eligibility

 The applicant must:

  1. Be a Filipino citizen;
  2. Be in good health condition;
  3. Not be more than 40 years old at the time of application;
  4. Hold a Master's degree in a field relevant to health and biomedicine;
  5. Have an outstanding academic record;
  6. Passed the admission requirements for the PhD study;
  7. Passed the interview and other screening procedures;
  8. Conduct her/his research for the entire duration of the scholarship and of the PhD Program.

 Scholarship Privileges

  1. Tuition and other University fees;
  2. Living allowance;
  3. Book allowance;
  4. Bench fee;
  5. Insurance (occurring whilst carrying out the PhD activity);
  6. One round-trip economy fare from residence to place of study

Selection Procedure

1st Selection

Document Screening

Documentary evaluation of the form and other requirements by DOST-PCHRD

2nd Selection

Technical Interview

Technical interview by a panel composed of DOST-PCHRD Director, FIF Scientific Director (or a FIF delegate), or a member of the PhD Program in Molecular Biomedicine of the UNITS, and other health research experts to assess:

·        Academic background and learning ability

·        Capacity for completing the study

·        Possibility of contributing to the development of the country

·        Compatibility to the university course

3rd and Final Selection

A panel from the PhD Program in Molecular Biomedicine (UNITS) will identify the successful PhD student(s) from among the candidates selected in the Technical Interview, based on their academic records and the selection criteria as established by UNITS.

Timeline

 For 2019 the schedule will be indicatively as follows:

May 30

Opening of the PCHRD call for applications

June 20

Application deadline

June 20- July 30

Document Screening and Announcement of the selected candidate(s)

August - September

Preparation of necessary documents (visa, insurance, bank account)

November 1

Start of PhD program

List of Application Documents (Forms) for PCHRD screening

  1. CV
  2. Accomplished application form with ID picture
  3. PSA Birth Certificate
  4. Valid NBI Clearance
  5. Endorsement Letter from two (2) former professors in MS program
  6. Certificate of Employment (if employed, recommendation and permission to take a leave of absence from employer or head of agency while on scholarship)
  7. Medical Certificate as to health status from a licensed physician with his/her PRC license number indicated
  8. Certificate of Master Degree
  9. Admission to Graduate Studies/Graduate School
  10. Transcript of Records (certified true copy)
  11. Program of Study/Course Curriculum (if available or to follow)
  12. Re-entry Plan (narrative)
  13. Budgetary Requirements (attach at least 3 airfare canvasses and website references for items requested)

Documents must be submitted to:

Address: Saliksik Building, DOST Compound, Gen. Santos Ave., Bicutan Taguig City 1631 Philippines

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

27 MAY 2019 – Balik Scientist Dr. Christian T. Gloria pays courtesy visit to Dr. Jaime Montoya, Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Dr. Gloria as an expert in public health and health education is currently hosted by Angeles University Foundation (AUF) in Pampanga.

Hailing from the University of Texas (UT) in Austin, he majored in Science for Health Promotion and Fitness. He also pursued his master’s degree for Health Education, and doctorate degree for health behavior and health education at the same university. As a student in UT, he also worked as a teaching and research assistant, then moved to Hawaii Pacific University (HPU) to pursue professorship. His pro bono works include leadership works for Bright Smiles Hawaii (BSH) and the Hawaii Public Association (HPHA).

Dr. Gloria will work in collaboration with PCHRD as a consultant on the current CHED-Discovery-Applied-Research specifically for mental health under the Balik Scientist Program (BSP). In line with his expertise on mental health, he prefers to focus on positive emotions and coping methods – which can potentially increase one’s resilience against stress. His expertise will greatly contribute to the development and implementation of programs that can further promote understanding on mental health in the country.

The DOST’s BSP aims to encourage Filipino scientists or experts who work abroad to come back to the Philippines and share their expertise here for the scientific, agro-industrial and economic progress of the country.

References: