Call for Applications: The Gelia Castillo Award for Research on Social Innovations in Health

The call for applications for the Gelia Castillo Award for Research on Social Innovations in Health (GCARSIH) 2020 is now open.

The Gelia Castillo Award for Research on Social Innovations in Health (GCARSIH) aims to recognize the outstanding social innovations that address persistent, societal and health systems challenges. Through the innovators’ experience, we can better understand why and how social innovations create impact, and discover how to scale up these effective interventions.

This Award is open to ongoing social innovations in health developed by Filipinos for the Filipinos. The entry must be implemented in the Philippines.

For the purposes of this Award, Social innovations in Health (SIH) are defined as new solutions (product, services, models, markets, processes) created by multi-sectoral health system actors. The solutions must (a) address a health need more effectively than existing approaches, (b) have the ability to enhance people’s capacity to act and take ownership of their own health, and (c) result in a more effective use of available resources.

Who can submit an entry?
The Award is open to all individuals, groups and institutions that have successfully developed and implemented social innovations in health in the Philippines. Participating institutions may be:

  • public or private
  • members of the consortium
  • scientific, technological and professional societies or associations
  • research institutes
  • universities and colleges
  • others

How to submit an entry
Step 1. Complete the Submission Entry Form, which includes a comprehensive write-up of the health innovation, a description of future plans for sustainability or scale-up, and relevant supporting documents.
Step 2. Submit your entry in person, via courier or via email.

  1. Email: Send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject GCARSIH SUBMISSION / <Name of Innovation> / <Name of Region>
  2. In-person or courier: Please refer to the Submission Entry Form for the list of RHRDC addresses.

A. Eligibility. The submitted social innovations in health will be considered for shortlisting based on the following eligibility criteria:

  1. Developed by Filipino/s
  2. Implemented in the Philippines for at least one (1) year (note: COVID-19 related innovations will be accepted even if these have been implemented for less than a year)
  3. Based on an identified priority health need of a community or geographical context
  4. Complete submission entry form (that has enough information for a fair review) submitted within the set deadline

B. Selection. The shortlisted, eligible entries will be reviewed by an external independent panel of experts based on the following selection criteria:

  • Degree of Innovativeness (25%) - The innovation provides a novel approach to address a systemic health challenge within its local context, providing an alternative to the status quo.
  • Significance (15%) - The innovation addresses a health priority of the Philippines, or a localized priority (e.g. prevalent yet neglected health problem in a town or a marginalized group).
  • Participatory & Co-owned (15%) - Participatory approach is evident in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the innovation.
  • Potential for Further Research or Scale (15%) - There are clear plans for further research and development of the innovation.
  • Inclusiveness (10%) - The innovation has the potential to be used by a large number of people, enhancing equity and access.
  • Effectiveness (10%) - The innovation has a demonstrated positive outcome on the health challenge it is addressing.
  • Affordability (10%) - The innovation is affordable to the poor or to those who are otherwise excluded; or the solution is more cost-effective than the status quo.

Shortlisting and Final Selection
The RHRDC will conduct the initial review and shortlisting of applications based on the eligibility criteria, and endorse the shortlisted entries to the GCARSIH Secretariat. Applications that do not meet the eligibility criteria will be notified accordingly.

The Final Selection will be conducted by an independent panel of experts convened by the GCARSIH Secretariat. The innovations will be scored on a scale of 1-5 in 0.5 increments. The panel may conduct on-site or online validation calls (e.g. telephone or video conference).

The panel has the prerogative not to give the award if the innovations fail to reach the threshold score. The decision of the panel is final.

The top innovations in health will receive a cash prize, eligibility for a research and development grant, and a training package with subject matter experts to enable the project to further expand and scale.

The training package will include modules on the following:

  • - Design thinking for social innovation
  • - Embedding research in social innovation/Implementation research basics
  • - Entrepreneurship and innovation
  • - Measuring outcomes and impact
  • - Sustainability through policy and governance
  • - Writing a research and development proposal for your social innovation

Important Dates
Submission of entries: September 21, 2020

Guide Document (.pdf)
Submission Entry Form (.doc)

As a highly-communicable disease, COVID-19 has affected various aspects of people's lives globally and has significantly changed the way our systems currently work. With countries imposing nationwide lockdowns as a precaution against the pandemic, travel is highly restricted, office employees work from home, and access to commercial establishments becomes limited, among others. As the country prepares to transition to the ‘new normal,’ it is vital to understand how the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is transmitted from one person to another to avoid the further spread of the infection.

How does COVID-19 spread?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 is primarily spread from person to person through respiratory droplets.

1. Respiratory Droplets - COVID-19 can be transmitted when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Anyone within 3 feet of the infected person may inhale these droplets into their lungs. The virus can also be transmitted through close contact such as when shaking hands or caring for the sick.
2. Surface Transmission - Surface transmission happens when a person touches contaminated surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on. Research shows that the virus can live on surfaces like plastic and stainless steel for several days.

What can I do to protect myself from COVID-19?

1. Continue practicing physical distancing- Maintain a distance of at least three feet from other people. Accordingly, avoid going to social gatherings or in crowded places.
2. Maintain good personal hygiene. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and constantly wash your hands with soap and water. In case these are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol.
3. Wear Personal Protective Equipment. Wear face masks that cover your mouth and nose when going out, or when with other people. Non-medical fabric masks may also help, as long as they are not damaged, clean and are worn properly. Never share your face mask with other people.
4. Clean and Disinfect. Using a household disinfectant, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19.
5. Observe stricter precautions for individuals at higher risk. Older people, and people with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, tend to be more at risk of developing severe symptoms. It is highly relevant for the immuno-compromised or those who belong to high-risk groups to stay at home as much as possible, and practice stricter precautions as iterated above.

Understanding the transmission patterns and practicing these specified precautionary measures could mean saving our lives and the people we love. Equipped with the right information and proper health practices, together, we can help fight to end this pandemic.



 Written by:

Catherrine Joy Dimailig
Jwynne Gwyneth Macan

As the Philippines hopes to transition from the COVID-19-induced community quarantine to the new normal, it is imperative that targeted mass testing is in place in order to contain further spread of the SARS-CoV2 virus. While national and local efforts to source diagnostic kits have been successful, there is an imminent testing bottleneck in the country due to the lack of capable qPCR instruments on which to run these specialized kits.

Recognizing this problem, the Department of Science and Technology through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) has signified support to the “Accelerated development of a cost-efficient microPCR (miPCR) and lateral flow diagnostic (LFD) system to enable expanded near-point-of-care testing for COVID-19” or the AMPLiFieD System to be developed by a multi-disciplinary team of biologists, clinicians and engineers led by Dr. Jeremie de Guzman, Dr. Keith Moore, and Mr. Ricardo Jose S. Guerrero, PhD Cand from the Ateneo Research Institute for Science and Engineering (ARISE).

The AMPLiFieD system will combine the outputs of two newly-initiated DOST-PCHRD supported projects  ---the miPCR Project, a microfluidic PCR device for portable DNA/RNA amplification and the ADDS Project, an amplified DNA detection system based on low-cost lateral flow diagnostic (LFD) strips to selectively detect the viral nucleic acids that are the output of the miPCR device.

Once the team has fabricated the proof of concept devices, further validation and verification of these devices will be conducted to ensure reliability and robustness. If successful, AMPLiFieD could provide a functional alternative to commercial qPCR instruments at a significantly lower cost and a much smaller size. The availability of this alternative system can also potentially lead to creating more cost-effective, more distributed testing laboratories and provide the much-needed testing infrastructure for more responsive testing and tracing of suspected COVID-19 cases.

Health care workers in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) can now connect with their patients without physically being present in COVID wards, thanks to telepresence devices that “limit exposure, conserve personal protective equipment (PPE), and provide clear communication with a friendly face.

These telepresence devices not only help nurses and doctors, anxious and lonely patients isolated from their families and moral support system can also remotely communicate with their loved ones during their fight to survive the disease.

technology solution was developed by the University of the Philippines Manila – College of Medicine Surgical Innovation and Biotechnology Laboratory or UPM-CM SIBOL COVID Task Force composed of collaborating clinicians from UP Manila and engineers, scientists, and artists from UP Diliman funded by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD).

COVID-19 is projected to require a massive inventory of medical supplies. This was the impetus for us to convene the SIBOL COVID Task Force,” according to Dr. Edward Wang, lead of the SIBOL team. The Task Force, recently formed to support the fight against coronavirus pandemic,  is composed of three teams working on Disinfection, PPE, and Telemonitoring.

SIBOL, a Filipino term for germination, is an existing program of DOST-PCHRD which originally aims to “use locally sourced material and technology to produce much needed surgical and medical devices in the country” (Wang, 2020).

The telepresence device is the first SIBOL product deployed by the team at PGH after two weeks of collaboration. “Inspired by triage booths initially set-up to screen ambulatory patients, the team led by Dr. Nathaniel Orillaza Jr. (Orthopedics), Dr. Pros Naval (Computer Science), and Dr. Luis Sison and Dr. Roel Ocampo (Electronics & Electrical Engineering Institute) assembled devices which allowed health care workers to connect to patients remotely,” said Dr. Wang.

The telepresence devices are “computers programmed to automatically answer calls from authorized accounts using available teleconferencing and remote-control applications, thus minimizing contamination and allowing effortless access even by patients with no technological know-how.”  Materials used for initial deployment were sponsored by Xavier School Class of 1975 while wooden stands were designed, manufactured, and subsidized by Projektzulu Co.  The team also acknowledges the Department of Orthopedics for providing headquarters and logistical support for this SIBOL Telemonitoring project.


To accelerate COVID-19 mass testing in the Philippines while protecting frontline healthcare workers during specimen collection, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) delivered and installed 132 specimen collection booths (SCBs) to 89 DOH-identified hospitals and healthcare facilities across the country.

As of May 23, the booths were successfully distributed to nine cities in NCR and 37 provinces in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Fabrication of the SCBs was facilitated since April by Mr. Augusto Martinez III and his team at the Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise (FAME) Inc. 

Inspired by the telephone booth-style swab collection facilities in other Asian countries, the SCB is equipped with a transparent front window, ventilation, and caster wheels for easier mobility. For added safety and protection, it also comes with pressure and infrared temperature sensors which can be used for remote monitoring of the patient and separate disinfection agents inside and outside the swab booth.

Each booth contains two holes at the front panel which allows the healthcare worker, in proper PPE, to collect the patient’s samples. Five minutes is then allotted to disinfect the booth before receiving the next patient. 

Designed to reduce the exposure of frontline health workers to suspected COVID-19 patients, the fabrication and distribution of SCBs were sponsored by DOST-attached agencies, Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) and Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD). The Philippine Coast Guard provided assistance in the delivery of some of the units to Visayas and Mindanao.

The recipients of SCBs also received instructional materials, videos, and document manuals on how to install and use the booths. The design was also made available publicly for free and disseminated through the DOST Regional Offices, in case other entities would like to fabricate their own booths.

The public can access the design through this link: