The theme “HR4D” or “Health Research for Development” was fittingly chosen as the rallying call of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) in its celebration of its 30th year of service as the lead national agency in coordinating and monitoring health research initiatives in the Philippines last March 16, 2012 at the Makati Shangri La Hotel, Makati City.

 Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, Executive Director of PCHRD-DOST, proudly announced, “The theme HR4D or ‘Health Research for Development’ reflects our strong commitment and support to research and innovation for health, equity and development.”

With the vision to be the lead council that creates and sustains an enabling environment for health research in the Philippines, indeed, PCHRD has encouraged development of health research in the country ever since its establishment in 1982 through Executive Order No. 784.

 The Council has made a huge impact in the Philippine health sector in the last 30 years - new drugs and medical devices were introduced, laws were created, projects in controlling diseases came to life and more. PCHRD has ceaselessly come up with new schemes to keep up with the changing times and make health research even more relevant.

 During the anniversary celebration, the Council presented new policy initiatives and strategies for Health R&D. Dr. Bernadette L. Ramirez, Scientist of the Lead Discovery for Infectious Tropical Diseases - Research Training in Tropical Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO), discussed the Role of International Organizations in Policy Formation for Health R&D. Rep. Angelo B. Palmones, Vice Chair of the Congress Committee on Science and Technology, talked about the Policy Initiatives to Accelerate Innovation in Health. Dr. Emerlinda R. Roman, former President of the University of the Philippines (UP), represented Sen. Edgardo J. Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science and Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), explained Research and Innovation for Health and Development.

 The celebration also provided vehicle for the Council to launch some of its initiatives. Dr. Antonio D. Ligsay, Division Chief of Research and Development Management Division of PCHRD, introduced the DOST-PCHRD Natural Substance Research Program. Ms. Arlene Ruiz, Co-Chair of the Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Research Agenda Committee, presented the National Unified Health Research Agenda (NUHRA) for 2011-2016.  Dr. Leonardo D. De Castro, Chair of the Philippine Health Research Ethics Board (PHREB), unveiled the 2011 National Ethical Guidelines for Health Research. Dr. Cecilia V. Tomas, Chair of the PHREB Sub-Committee on Standards and Accreditation, discussed PHREB and Ethics Review Committees (ERC) Accreditation Program, while Ms. Merlita M. Opeña, Division Chief of the Research Information, Communication and Utilization Division of PCHRD, launched the Philippine Health Research Registry (PHRR).

 Although there are still many things left to be done, it cannot be denied that the Council’s 30 fruitful years of existence paved the way for expanding development in the Philippine health sector. Dr. Marita Reyes, co-Chair of PHREB and former UP-Manila Chancellor, said, “Today we have been happy participants and witnesses to PCHRD’s demonstration of how it has remained faithful to its mission of ensuring that health researches contributes to the improvement on the quality of life of the Filipino.”

Ms. Merlita M. Opeña, Chief of RICUD presents the Philippine Health Research Registry


"PCHRD's development of a registry to track health researches and clinical trials in the country is a step in the right direction. This program is commendable in light of the limitations that hamper the Philippine health system," lauded Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay, Sr. in his keynote speech, delivered by former Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Esperanza I. Cabral during the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development's 30th anniversary celebration last March 16.

The Philippine Health Research Registry (PHRR) is a tool for good governance to promote transparency and accountability in health research.

The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) Scholars Society (PSS) held its first convention with the theme "21st Century Skills for Researchers" at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila on 20 March 2012.

"21st century skill" refer to the growing global framework that redefines the goals of education, to transform how learning is practiced, and to expand the range of measures in students' achievement to meet the new demands of the 21st Century.

Dr. Josefina Tuazon, former Dean of the College of Nursing, University of the Philippines Manila (UPM) and President of PSS said "21st century skills" revolved around three major skills: life and career, learning and innovation, and information and communication technology (ICT). "In order to be productive in the 21st century, we should have the ability to quickly learn from the core of knowledge, master the essentials of innovation and technology to adapt to the increasingly information-driven and technologically-powered society. As researchers, we don’t just need statistics we need to have skills on ethical research, skills on technical writing and literacy on ICT. Researches should be publishable and can contribute to new knowledge, and most importantly, have impact to the community."


In the plenary sessions, the following topics were discussed: Influencing policies and practices in health research by Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-de la Paz, Director of the Institute of Human Genetics, National Institute of Health (NIH-UPM); Ethical guidelines and issues concerning human subjects in health research by Dr. Godofreda Dalmacion, Assistant Director of the Institute of Clinical Epidemiology NIH-UPM; and Best evidences in preventing Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) by Dr. John Juliard Go, the National Professional Officer on Non-Communicable Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO).

In his inspirational message, Dr. Jaime Montoya, PCHRD Executive Director emphasized the importance of investing in human resource to produce skilled and productive human capital for competitive Philippine and global markets. He also encouraged scholars to be involved in research and be part of PCHRD’s pool of research proposal evaluators and mentors.

Dr. Montoya also emphasized the importance of partnership and collaboration, “We are happy to work with you, with your intelligence, energy, sense of purpose and commitment - the country needs what you have to offer now, more than ever,” stressed Dr. Montoya.

The PSS was organized in 2007 to help PCHRD strengthen its effort to sustain an enabling environment for health research and provide avenue for health research information exchange among PCHRD scholars.

MSU-IIT awarded as 1st Tuklas Lunas Center

During its 30th anniversary last 16 March 2012, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) awarded the Mindanao State University–Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) as the first Tuklas Lunas Center under the Council’s Natural Substance Research Program.

"Rabies-free Philippines is still possible in 2020," said Dr. Victor Atienza, Assistant Director of the Bureau of Animal Industry, Department of Agriculture (DA-BAI) and Chair of the National Rabies Committee, during the Quezon City Rabies Prevention and Control Summit on 22 March 2012, held at Bulwagang Amoranto, Quezon City Hall.

"Though the Philippines is still ranked 6th among countries with the highest rabies incidence in the world, there is still a possibility for the country to meet the target of becoming rabies-free in 2020," said Dr. Atienza.

"In fact, we already have communities that have been declared as rabies-free in the country. Among these communities are Camiguin of Region X, Siquijor of Region VII, Batanes of Region II, and five areas in Cebu."

Dr. Atienza also announced that animal rabies cases declined by more than 62 percent - from 2,550 cases in 2001 to 451 cases in 2011.

Out of 2,207 animal samples examined in 2011, only 451 cases were confirmed for rabies. "This indicates a significant decline in rabies incidence," explained Dr. Atienza.

The top provinces for animal rabies cases in 2011 are Region X (69 cases), Region IVA (58 cases), Region VII (48 cases), Region I (45 cases) and Region V (33 cases). 98% of animal rabies cases are due to dogs while two percent are due to cats and other domesticated animals such as carabao, cattle, pigs and goats. There are no rabies cases involving wild animals and bats in the country.

Dr. Atienza, appealed for support from the local government of the identified top provinces for rabies cases. "We cannot do it alone, but through collaboration and your support, rabies-free Philippines is possible in the near future." He also sought additional funding for animal vaccination. "At the moment, we are only distributing vaccines to the selected poor and deprived communities. If only the funding indicated in the Anti Rabies Act of 2007 will be followed, this would be a big support to fund IEC campaign for rabies awareness, dog vaccination and other activities as indicated in the law. By then, rabies cases will surely be reduced and eliminated and the Philippines could be declared Rabies free even before the target date of 2020."