Tuberculosis claims more lives than HIV/AIDS.
 
Despite being a preventable and curable disease, tuberculosis or TB kills an average of 70 Filipinos daily according to the Department of Health.  It is considered as one of the most pressing health concerns not only in the country but globally as well.
 
Tuberculosis is caused by the bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis and is spread when a person with active TB expels microscopic, bacteria-carrying droplets when they cough or sneeze. A person can contract the bacteria by inhaling these droplets in extended periods of time. Symptoms of the disease include: severe coughs that lasts 3 weeks or longer, chest pains, coughing up blood, unintended weight loss, fever, night sweats, loss of appetite, and fatigue.
 
One of the major challenges in decreasing TB burden in the country is that the disease is highly prevalent in urban poor communities with little access to health care, according to an article on TB detection and patient care in Payatas and Tondo published in the journal Public Health Action in 2017. Although local government units (LGUs) implement programs to bring TB-patient care services to those who need them, there are several factors that hinder TB presumptive patients to undergo diagnosis and seek appropriate treatment. In Payatas and Tondo, poor communication by healthcare workers as well as inconsistent follow ups contribute to late diagnosis and delayed treatment of the disease.
 
Moreover, there is a tendency of inaccurate diagnosis due to the symptoms being similar to those of other diseases. To address this problem, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development under the Department of Science and Technology supports projects that provide more accurate diagnosis of the disease. One such PCHRD-funded project is the Newton Agham Tuberculosis Filipino Impact Testing (TB FIT) by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute (DLSMHSI) which developed a local mathematical model to determine the cost-effectiveness of new TB diagnostics and predicted a new point-of-care. Another project is the Low-cost Point-of-care Diagnostics for Simultaneous Detection of Paragonimus westermani and Mycobacterium tuberculosis using RPA technology being developed by the University of the Philippines Manila- Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.  

However, the challenges on TB management do not end with early detection. It is followed by the need to undergo consistent medication for a minimum of six months according to the Department of Health. If treatment is interrupted, there is a risk of developing drug-resistant tuberculosis which progresses faster and is harder to cure. In this regard, training healthcare workers and educating patients are key to increasing TB detection among presumptive patients, allowing them to receive appropriate treatment as early as possible.
 
As the National Unified Health Research Agenda (NUHRA) 2017-2022 identifies communicable diseases such as tuberculosis as one of its research priorities, the DOST-PCHRD is also funding projects that aim to strengthen TB-control efforts in communities by initiating systemic improvements. One of these is the project “Cavite for a community approach study to control and halt Drug Resistant TB (COACH-DRTC)” of the De La Salle Health Science Institute. This promotes a multi-sectoral involvement in reinforcing the TB-control programs in the province by fostering collaborations between its LGUs and health offices.
 
Through DOST-PCHRD, the Philippines is also involved in international initiatives on TB control and mitigation through research. The Philippines established a consortium under the Regional Prospective Observational Research for Tuberculosis (RePORT) which is a network of international consortia comprising of high TB burden areas around the world. This promotes collaboration among its members to advance tuberculosis research in their respective countries.
 
For more information on projects and programs for tuberculosis diagnosis and treatments supported by the DOST-PCHRD, you may browse through the PCHRD website at www.pchrd.dost.gov.ph
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5753779/
https://www.who.int/philippines/news/detail/23-04-2019-doh-who-call-for-all-out-war-against-tb
https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/iq/228777-things-to-know-tuberculosis-philippines
http://www.wpro.who.int/philippines/areas/communicable_diseases/tb/story_continuation_tb_area_page/en/


Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato T. dela Pena urged researchers, academe, private institutions and government to build on partnerships and solidarity to address the sustainable development goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations (UN) for the country during the 13th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week.

In line with the theme, “Achieving Health-Related Sustainable Development Goals through Research and Innovation,” Sec. dela Pena reiterated that although addressing the most pressing health concerns of the country is the commitment of the PNHRS and its consortia members, it is also relevant to contribute to the achievement of all the other SDGs through partnerships and collaborations.

In his message delivered by DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Guevara, the Secretary said that, "The importance of partnerships in achieving the SDG targets behooves on us to always keep an open mind, to be ready to accommodate new ideas from people or sectors which are not in our traditional circles while recognizing that we too can contribute to other sectors.”

He further explained the role of all the regional consortia as key in ensuring equity in research and development and in making sure that all the research outputs are utilized.

The 13th PNHRS Week covered various topics on health, health research, policy making and research dissemination with 22 sessions during its 4-day long celebration held at the Limketkai Luxe Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City, last August 13 to 16, 2019.

Call for Research Proposals: AHEAD-HPSR Program


The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) is pleased to announce the first call for research proposals for the Advancing Health through Evidence-Assisted Decisions with Health Policy and Systems Research (AHEAD-HPSR) Program.
Interested institutions, organizations, and researchers are invited to submit a full proposal on any of the topics listed below.





REQUIREMENTS


    1. Detailed Proposal and Work Plan

The potential proponent shall prepare a detailed proposal using the prescribed DOST form that presents among others the following:

    1. Title of proposed project
    2. Information about the Project Leader
    3. Significance and objectives of the project
    4. Review of related literature (references to illustrate/describe the baseline data)
    5. Theoretical framework (key assumptions and critical areas in conceptualization stage)
    6. Methodology/strategies for implementation
    7. Expected Output
    8. Target beneficiaries
    9. Gender sensitivity/responsiveness (based on the harmonized gender and development guidelines)
    10. Personnel and financial requirement
    11. Duration of the program/project
    12. Work Plan or Gantt Chart of activities
    13. Curriculum vitae of Project Leader, and other Co-researchers/implementers
  1. Line Item Budget
  2. Potential Proponent/Project Leader shall submit the proposal duly endorsed by the Head of Agency/Institution.
  3. Potential Proponent/Project Leader with 2 or more on going researches may not need to participate.


Kindly register as a proponent at http://www.projects.pchrd.dost.gov.ph/index.php/reg and attach the above requirements on or before August 30, 2019


For queries, contact Ms. Clarissa B. Reyes at (02) 837-2071 Local 2110 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Members and representatives of the PNHRS Research Utilization Committee from the 17 regional health research and development consortia participated in the 13th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week pre-conference session, “Campaigning towards AIDS-free Society,” held last 13 August 2019 in Cagayan de Oro City.

Highlights of the morning session are discussions which aims to raise awareness on the growing HIV/AIDS concern in the country by developing effective information campaigns. Three notable speakers were invited to discuss HIV/AIDS research, share experiences in handling patients with HIV, and lecture on the skills and techniques in developing information campaigns.

Dr. Emmanuel Baja, a PCHRD Balik Scientist awardee from UP Manila, discussed his study on HIV Gaming, Engaging, and Testing. He shared that through his research, they were able to develop a mobile application, Battle in the Blood, which became a very powerful tool in advocating towards the elimination of stigma on HIV and encouraged people to get themselves tested for HIV. Dr. Baja emphasized that in campaigning towards a certain cause, people engagement is crucial to truly make them relate to the advocacy.

Dr. Bernadeth Gerodias, a psychologist at the Southern Philippines Medical Center, shared her experiences in handling patients suffering from HIV. She explained that professionals supporting patients living with HIV need to make space for their patients to process the emotional effect of their diagnosis, but not to make assumptions about what it means to them. Dr. Gerodias explained that because HIV’s psychological effects vary with every person, the approach into developing mental care and support for them also vary.

The discussion of Ms. Nini Santos, Consultant and Communication Expert from USAID STRIDE, underscores some of the strategies in developing information campaigns.  According to Ms. Santos, highlighting the mission in the content, exploring partnerships and engagements with different groups, and using appropriate channel for distribution are key elements into ensuring a successful campaign.

In the afternoon, the participants were grouped and assigned to work on their group’s campaign strategy applying all that they have learned during the morning session. After the workshop, the RUC held a business meeting to harmonize the RU Committee name and functions across the regions.

In the wake of the mounting reported cases of dengue in the country, Secretary Fortunato de la Peña of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) suggests the use of DOST innovation/product to help in addressing this problem. “Dengue research and development has always been one of the priority research areas as stated in the Harmonized National Research and Development Agenda (HNRDA) led by the DOST. Through the DOST- Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), we have funded a number of research projects and programs that is consistent with the multi-prong approach in the control of Dengue that address different aspects such as diagnosis and treatment.  In the area of diagnosis, we funded the development of a rapid diagnostic test (Biotek M) for dengue that can diagnose the disease as early as two to three days after the onset of illness.  This will be very helpful in making the early diagnosis of dengue so that prompt management can be done to prevent complications. This will also help  decongest the hospitals that are constrained to keep the  dengue suspects confined in the hospital for monitoring until the diagnosis is established  as well as to alleviate the anguish of patients and their relatives as to the confirmation of the diagnosis of dengue. This diagnostic kit  is already available in a number of public hospitals . We have asked the technology developer to make it available to the affected areas of dengue in cooperation with our regional offices and the Department of Health.”

The DOST is also funding the clinical trials for the evaluation of a possible herbal medicine for dengue that has multiple mechanisms of action: anti-viral activity against the dengue virus, can elevate the platelet levels which are seen in the complicated cases of dengue responsible for bleeding and reduction of plasma leakage which contributes to the lowering of blood pressure among the dengue patients. The Phase I clinical trial will just start and completion up to Phase 3 clinical trials is required for certification and approval by the Food and Drug Administrationin (FDA).  To date there is no available therapeutic medicine for dengue anywhere else in the world

According to Secretary de la Peña, “We have also supported the development of herbal supplements that can help patients affected with dengue. The herbal supplements that include single and combination herbal preparations are already ready for submission to the FDA.  These herbs are derived from folkloric use and have passed safety and toxicity studies..  We have  requested the technology developers to make this available at the soonest time possible after satisfying all the regulatory requirements. We are also coordinating with the FDA regarding this.”